Germany’s Protectionist won Australia’s biggest race the Melbourne Cup yesterday, but the event was marred by the deaths of two horses, including Japanese favourite Admire Rakti who came last.
Protectionist, beautifully ridden by English jockey Ryan Moore, beat England’s Red Cadeaux by four lengths, with New Zealand’s Who Shot Thebarman another half-length away in third.
Goldolphin’s Willing Foe came home in fifth with Cavalryman unable to race due to a swollen leg.
There was sadness in the aftermath as 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. “Obviously we’ll have to await those results to find out the cause of the death.”
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 unrepairable pastern bone.
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.
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.”
Owner Andreas 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.
“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 added.
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.
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