Germany's Protectionist wins Melbourne Cup as two horses die

Story highlights

  • Race favorite, Japan's Admire Rakti dies immediately after race
  • German-trained Protectionist takes cup by four lengths
  • Seventh-placed Araldo later euthanized
  • 100,000 people watched from the trackside at Flemington Racecourse
Elation over the first German victory in Australia's Melbourne Cup has been dampened by the death of two horses at the event.
The race favorite -- Japanese-trained Admire Rakti -- collapsed and died in his stall, minutes after crossing the post in last place.
Later Araldo was reportedly put down after being spooked by a boy with a flag on his way back to the stalls causing the seventh-placed horse to suffer a serious leg injury.
Stallion Admire Ratkti had struggled in the race despite being widely tipped to win after an impressive win in the Caulfield Cup in October.
"The exact cause of death is yet to be determined, although the circumstances of the horse's passing are very rare," said Dr. Brian Stewart, the head of veterinary and equine welfare at Racing Victoria, referring to Admire Ratki. He said a postmortem would be conducted.
"Our sympathies are extended at this time to the owner Mr Kondo, trainer Mr Umeda and his staff who cared deeply for their horse and are naturally saddened by their tragic loss."
First past the post in prestigious Melbourne Cup was Protectionist, a five-year old trained by Andreas Wohler, and ridden by English jockey Ryan Moore.
"He has won very easily and that is a very good horse," Moore said.
Admire Rakti
An ecstatic Wohler said: "It's unbelievable. We'll probably later think about it and it's a moment you won't forget in your life."
The five-year old -- one of the most inexperienced in the field -- won by four lengths, ahead of Britain's Red Cadeaux, which placed second for a third time out of four starts.
New Zealand's Who Shot Thebarman came third.
Second horse injured
After being spooked Araldo reared up and kicked a fence, badly injuring his right hind leg.
The stallion was examined on site before being taken by ambulance to the University of Melbourne Veterinary Hospital. There, vets determined his injuries were too severe, and he was euthanized.
Last year, Verema was euthanized after snapping her cannon bone and dropping out of the race at the halfway mark.
The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR) asked on its Facebook page whether the "party was really worth it?"
"A recent study by CPR found that 125 horses died on Australian racetracks over a 12 month period," added the horse protection organization. "Thousands more are also sent to the knackery when no longer profitable.
"Today added two more casualties to those statistics."
Just three weeks ago, Admire Rakti -- trained by Tomoyuko Umeda -- took first place in the Caulfield Cup, putting the seven-year-old in prime position to take out the Melbourne Cup.
Just hours before the race, commentators speculated on whether he could take the rare double. Ridden by Zac Purton, Admire Rakti started out strongly but showed signs of discomfort with several hundred meters to go.
"It's very sad. He gave me a great thrill at Caulfield and for this to happen to him is just not fair," Purton said. "I didn't think they'd beat me. I thought he'd win today and the whole way through the first half of the race I thought that too."
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) released a statement saying it expects a full investigation to be conducted into both incidents.
"Events like these are a stark reminder to the community of the real risks to horses associated with racing," the statement said. "Sadly, injury and death are the price some horses pay for our entertainment in a sport that puts intense pressure on animals to perform to the limits of their endurance."
The Melbourne Cup is the biggest event on the country's racing calendar. There's a public holiday every year in Victoria, the southern state where the race is run.
Elsewhere around the country, work stops and many schools pause to watch the race live on television.