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Favourite dies at Melbourne Cup

2014-11-04 14:00
Admire Rakti (Getty Images)

Melbourne - Germany's Protectionist won Australia's biggest race, the A$6.2 million Melbourne Cup, on Tuesday but the event was marred by the deaths of two horses, including Japanese favourite Admire Rakti who came last.

Protectionist, starting at 7-1 and beautifully ridden by English jockey Ryan Moore, beat England's Red Cadeaux (20-1) by four lengths, with New Zealand's Who Shot Thebarman (20-1) another half-length away in third.

But there was sadness in the aftermath. The well-supported Admire Rakti collapsed and died in his stall upon returning from the track and later it was confirmed that another runner Araldo was put down after injuring himself when spooked by a flag being waved in the crowd.

"Our vets are on hand and the horse will undergo an autopsy," chief race steward Terry Bailey said of Admire Rakti's demise.

"Obviously we'll have to await those results to find out the cause of the death."

In another post-race incident, seventh-placed Araldo kicked out at a fence when returning to the mounting yard and injured a hind leg.

Racing Victoria's head of veterinary and equine welfare Brian Stewart said the horse fractured a pastern bone which was not repairable.

The deaths shocked Flemington following Protectionist's outstanding victory to become the sixth internationally-trained winner of Australia's iconic race.

The Japanese topweight in the race had been well supported after a storming victory in the Caulfield Cup last month, and was up with the lead for most of the 3,200-metre (two mile) event.

But as the seven-year-old galloper rounded the final bend he was noticeably under pressure.

Jockey Zac Purton furiously tried to maintain his position, only to drop back sharply through the field to finish 25 lengths behind the second-last horse.

"He travelled well for me the whole way but when the pressure come on he folded pretty quick," Purton said.

Protectionist was Germany's first success in the race and a first for trainer Andreas Wohler.

Moore skilfully manoeuvred Protectionist into the clear about 200 metres from home and the five-year-old charged to the line for an easy victory in the 104th Melbourne Cup.

"He's won very easily, a very good horse," said a delighted Moore.

"Obviously, it's very special to win."

Wohler was also jubilant. "We've had great success all over the world but that's the biggest of all," he said.

"He (Moore) was so patient. When he came around the last bend I said he just needs to have the right gap and he found it... Ryan is a superstar.

"It's unbelievable. It's a moment you won't forget in your life. It's a big achievement from our team."

Purton said he was "just shattered" by the fate of Admire Rakti. 

"He gave me such a great thrill there at Caulfield. They don't deserve this," he said, adding that owner Riichi Kondo was distraught.

"The whole way through the run I thought I'd win. I didn't think they'd beat me from where I was," Purton said.

But with 800 metres to go the horse was not responding and Purton began worrying that all was not well.

"I didn't know it was as bad as it was," he said.

As they approached the home turn Admire Rakti was clearly under stress and then dropped sharply back through the field.

Purton eased him down and virtually walked him over the line, 25 lengths behind the second-last horse, Mr O'Ceirin.

It is the second consecutive year in which there was tragedy in the Melbourne Cup. French mare Verema was put down after snapping a cannon bone in 2013.

Nine-year-old Red Cadeaux gamely held off Who Shot Thebarman to take the runner-up cheque for the third time in the event.

"He gave me his best, as always," said jockey Gerald Mosse. "Very big heart and he tried so hard all the way. He just found one too good for him again."

Signoff, ridden by Brazilian jockey Joao Moreira, was fourth with Willing Foe fifth and Precedence sixth.

Read more on:    horseracing

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