Two Horses Die in Australia’s Biggest Race of the Year

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A big victory by German stallion Protectionist in the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday was overshadowed by the deaths of two horses after Australia’s richest horse race, including the favorite Admire Rakti.

Red Cadeaux strode to the lead in the last straight of the 2-mile (3,200-meter) classic but was overhauled on the inside by five-year-old Protectionist, which went on to win by four lengths in only its 10th race.

“We’ve had great success all over the world but that’s the biggest of all,” winning trainer Andreas Wohler said. “When he came round the last bend, I (said) he just needs to have the right gap and he found it, and he quickened so well.”

Wohler described winning jockey Ryan as “a superstar” and added: “It’s a big achievement from our team.”

Red Cadeaux placed second for the third time in four Melbourne Cups, becoming the first three-time runner-up. Who Shot The Barman was another half-length behind in third place in the A$6.2 million ($5.4 million) race.

“He ran a super race like he always does. Very big heart and he tried so hard all the way,” Red Cadeaux jockey Gerald Mosse said. “Just found one too good for him again.”

Admire Rakti was the pre-race favorite in the 154th Melbourne Cup after winning the Caulfield Cup last month but, after being among the front-runners in the early going, faded suddenly midway through the race and finished a distant last in the 22-horse field.

The seven-year-old Japanese stayer collapsed and died shortly after returning to the stalls, Racing Victoria chief steward Terry Bailey said.

The cause of death was yet to be determined, “although the circumstances of the horse’s passing are very rare,” Dr. Brian Stewart, Racing Victoria’s head of veterinary and equine welfare, said in a statement.

Stewart said a post mortem examination would be conducted at the University of Melbourne Veterinary Hospital.

Admire Rakti was owned by Riichi Kondo and trained by Tomoyuki Umeda.

In another post-race incident, seventh-place Araldo broke its leg on the way back to the stalls and had to be euthanized. Racing Victoria said the horse was spooked by a flag waved by a person in the crowd and, in retreating, kicked out and fractured a pastern bone in its hind leg on a fence near the path.

Jockey Zac Purton rode Admire Rakti and said he could tell there was something wrong during the race.

“I knew he was in trouble when he didn’t tow me into the race around halfway from home,” Purton was quoted as saying by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “So I eased him down straight away, the horse’s welfare comes first.

“It’s very sad. He gave me a great thrill at Caulfield, and for this to happen to him is just not fair.”

Araldo, trained by Mike Moroney, got through the race unscathed but sustained injuries in the post-race incident that veterinary experts said were too severe to recover from.

“It is with sadness that we confirm that Araldo has had to be humanely euthanized as a result of the injury it suffered in a freak accident,” Stewart said. “The owners made the decision to humanely euthanize Araldo in the best interests of the horse.

Last year’s race was also marred by a fatal injury to the Aga Khan’s first Melbourne Cup runner, Verema. The French-bred mare was believed to have snapped a cannon bone during the race.

(Copyright 2014, KRON 4 and the Associated Press, All rights reserved.)

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