The 2014 Melbourne Cup will be remembered sadly as the occasion when two horses, the Japanese favourite Admire Rakti and the home-trained Araldo, lost their lives.
In a purely sporting context, it will be celebrated for ever throughout Germany for being the race in which their classy stayer Protectionist became the first from that country to win one of the world’s most famous and valuable races.
Jockey Ryan Moore’s master class in patience and timing will not be forgotten in a hurry, either, while everybody at Ed Dunlop’s Newmarket stable will always cherish memories of Red Cadeaux, who finished runner-up for a record third time.
Moore is not only England’s finest rider, but arguably the best in the world right now and one reason is his unflappability. So there was no panic when Protectionist was squeezed out and shuffled towards the back of the field as those around him scrambled for early positions.
Moore, who also so impressed the locals when bringing Adelaide from last to first in another of Australia’s eminent races, the Cox Plate, down the road at Moonee Valley 10 days ago, said: “They went a strong pace early on and I struggled for a position, but it was just about finding the space. I had so much horse, he won it easy.”
That was no exaggeration. For a few moments after the sweep for home it looked as though Red Cadeaux would, quite fittingly, be the horse to at last break Britain’s Melbourne Cup duck, but Moore was on the march and once the splits came, Protectionist was through them in a flash before quickening four lengths clear.
Protectionist is the latest German star to make it big on the international stage in recent years following the successes of Danedream in the 2011 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and Novellist in last year’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Protectionist, like Novellist, is trained by Andreas Wöhler, but will now join Kris Lees in Australia as part of a deal. Even so, the bookies make him 6-1 to win next year’s Ascot Gold Cup behind Dermot Weld’s Forgotten Rules.
Red Cadeaux, meanwhile, has now accumulated a staggering £1,731,266 in Melbourne Cup prize-money without actually winning it. And he may be back for more. “We never lost the faith,” said Dunlop. “We’ll see how he is next year – he’s old and it takes a lot out of him – but if he’s still up to it I’d like to come back again.”
There are no consolations for connections of Admire Rakti, who collapsed and died in his box after the race, nor Araldo, who, after finishing a gallant seventh, kicked out at a fence when spooked by a flag in the crowd and was fatally injured.
Inevitably, these deaths were the main talking points on Australian social media in the aftermath of the race, while the RSPCA demanded “a full and transparent investigation into both incidents”.
Racing Victoria’s Dr Brian Stewart said: “The exact cause of Admire Rakti’s death is yet to be determined, although the circumstances of the horse’s passing are very rare. A post-mortem will be conducted, as is standard practice.”Reuse content