Melbourne Cup deaths spark calls for change

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MELBOURNE: The death of Melbourne Cup favourite Admire Rakti reignited calls yesterday for a ban on whips as initial autopsy results showed the champion Japanese galloper suffered acute heart failure.

Admire Rakti, a seven-year-old, collapsed and died in his stall after fading badly on the final stretch of Australia’s premier race on Monday, won by Germany’s Protectionist.

Another runner, Araldo, was put down after injuring a hind leg when spooked by a flag being waved in the crowd as he returned to the mounting yard.

The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses, which says 125 horses died on Australian tracks between Aug 1 last year and July 31 this year, said horses were being pushed too hard and called for a ban on the use of whips by jockeys.

“We believe that pushing horses beyond their physical limits through use of the whip, and racing horses while under-developed at two years of age, are significant factors as to why horses break down on the racetrack,” spokesman Ward Young said.

“We’re calling on the racing industry to start running whip free races and phase out two-year-old racing.”

Animal welfare group RSPCA said the deaths were a “stark reminder” of the damage the sport can have on horses.

Racing Victoria’s chief veterinarian Brian Stewart denied excessive whipping was a factor in Admire Rakti’s death. He told SEN radio yesterday that initial autopsy results conducted at the University of Melbourne showed that Admire Rakti suffered from heart failure. — AFP

Araldo (left) which was ridden by Dwayne Dunn being spooked by a patron waving a flag as the horses return to scale after racing in the Melbourne Cup. Photo by AFP.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on November 6, 2014.