Anger over Melb Cup deaths

The deaths of the Melbourne Cup favourite and a locally-trained horse have prompted animal rights groups to call for a ban on the sport.

Japanese stallion Admire Rakti, who won the Caulfield Cup last month, raced near the lead for most of the 3200m race, but quickly dropped away to last place after rounding the final bend.

The $5.50 favourite finished 25 lengths behind the second-last horse before collapsing and dying on return to the tie-up stalls after the race, igniting outrage.

Araldo, who injured his leg after being spooked by a member of the crowd waving an Australian flag after the race, was put down later on Tuesday.

Animal Liberation CEO Lynda Stoner told The New Daily she was “devastated” by news of Admire Rakti’s death, which she heard at a Melbourne Cup function to protest the cruelty of the “obscene” sport.

“It was just further proof of why this so-called sport of kings must be banned,” Ms Stoner said.

“The majority of people who go to the Melbourne Cup don’t even know there’s a horse race on. It would be a handful of people who actually go there for the horse race. It’s all about the fascinators and the other stuff that goes with it.

“There are so many accidents that happen, and the whipping of horses for money. It’s obscene.”

 RSPCA spokesperson Sharon McKenzie told The New Daily that the deaths were both “absolutely tragic” and a stark reminder of “the price that some horses pay for our entertainment”.

“Events like these are a stark reminder to the community of the real dangers and real risks to horses associated with racing,” Ms McKenzie said.

“We are expecting there to be a full and transparent investigation to be undertaken into both of these incidents.”

Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses spokesperson Ward Young told The New Daily his organisation is “very distraught” that horses died at the Melbourne Cup for two years running – the first being Verema in 2013.

“We think that the racing industry should honour this horse by holding a moment’s silence rather than sweeping it under the carpet as they do with horse deaths,” said Mr Young, who was protesting with other members of the Coalition outside the gates of Flemington racecourse when contacted by The New Daily.

He said fewer horses would die if “excessive use” of the whip was done away with and horses were no longer pushed “beyond their physical limits”.

His comments came after jockey Michael Rodd was fined $400 for excessively whipping the Bart and James Cummings-trained Precedence.

This year’s Melbourne Cup was the fastest in 12 years, and was run in 27-degree heat.

Admire Rakti’s jockey, Australian Zac Purton, confirmed that he knew something was wrong with the horse halfway through the race.

“I knew he was in trouble when he didn’t tow me into the race around halfway from home so I eased him down straight away. The horse’s welfare comes first,” Purton said.

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

After Admire Rakti was returned to his stall in a distressed state, security staff put up a screen and cordoned off the area as vets tended to the stallion and strappers raced to bring it buckets of water.

Concerned Japanese connections gathered around the stall as vets worked on the horse and later conducted a post-mortem.

A crowd built up in the area, with security struggling to control concerned racegoers as word of the tragedy spread throughout Flemington.

Racing Victoria head of equine welfare and veterinary services Dr Brian Stewart described the death as a “freak accident” that occurs in approximately only 0.007 per cent of racehorses.

In 2013, French runner Verema was shot on the track after breaking her near-foreleg cannon bone – an injury that is considered unrecoverable.

Chief steward Terry Baily said the death of Admire Rakti was “a shame”, and confirmed an autopsy would be conducted.

“It’s a shame. We had such a nice, clean-run Melbourne Cup,” Mr Bailey said.

The deaths of Admire Rakti and Araldo marred a magnificent win by German raider Protectionist.

The win made Germany the fifth overseas country to take out the Cup, after wins from New Zealand, Ireland, France and Japan.

Original article: http://thenewdaily.com.au/sport/2014/11/04/melbourne-cup-favourite-collapses-dies-race/