Champion jockey Damien Oliver felt the tension in his Melbourne Cup ride Alenquer.
The six-year-old was under an injury cloud as late as the morning of the race that stops a nation, having only been cleared to run by Racing Victoria vets at 3.30am on Tuesday.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Damien Oliver cleared to race Alenquer before the Melbourne Cup.
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As late as Monday night the horse was still showing signs of soreness in the near fore foot as a result of a stone bruise.
Officials gave Oliver’s final Cup mount until the last moment to be passed fit to run, meaning the 51-year-old was afforded one last chance at winning the county’s most famous race for a fourth time.
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Alenquer had a hoof pad applied by vets to take his place alongside 22 rivals but finished in the tail of the field.
Speaking after the race, Oliver admitted he could sense it wasn’t going to be their day.
“I had a good run, I just would have liked him to relax a little bit better. Probably just for mine at this stage (he) didn’t run out a strong two miles (3200m),” the Australian great said.
Damien Oliver rode his last Melbourne Cup runner on Tuesday. Credit: Getty
The veteran jockey said he felt good about himself, but had concerns for his horse.
“I was actually pretty relaxed,” Oliver said.
“I didn’t want the horse to run just for the sake of it, conscious of the horse’s wellbeing.
“Both (trainer) Mike (Moroney) and I are experienced campaigners, we’re past the stage of just wanting a runner. The horse is more important to both of us.”
Oliver and Alenquer took their place in the Melbourne Cup after the health scare. Credit: JAMES ROSS/AAPIMAGEEarlier, Oliver rode Wiggum to victory in Race 4. Credit: AAP
The 51-year-old didn’t leave Flemington on Tuesday empty-handed, piloting Wiggum to victory in the Schweppervescence Plate.
Oliver, who will call time on a glittering career next month, was chasing a record-equalling fourth Cup victory in his 32nd attempt.
Winning jockey Mark Zahra, who piloted Without A Fight to victory after his triumph last year with Gold Trip, revealed Oliver still had a small role in the outcome.
Zahra followed rival jockeys Oliver, James McDonald (Gold Trip) and Ryan Moore (Vauban) to find a spot from which to launch his successful surge.
– With AAP
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