MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Japanese stayer Admire Rakti, the pre-race favorite for the Melbourne Cup, died of acute heart failure though the cause may be unknown until the full results from a post-mortem, the Racing Victoria Racing’s chief steward has said.
The 6-year-old collapsed after the handicap 3,200 meter race on Tuesday after he faded badly and finished in a distant last place behind German raider Protectionist.
A post-mortem was conducted at Melbourne University on Tuesday.
“All indications are that Admire Rakti passed away due to heart failure,” RV chief steward Terry Bailey told ABC Radio on Wednesday. “We need to get the autopsy results and that will tell the story.
“These horses are looked after by the finest equine vets in the world and we will just have to wait until we get the results.”
Bailey said the horse had not appeared to have been in any difficulty prior to the race and had been inspected by veterinarians earlier in the day and given the all clear.
The 5-1 favorite and an impressive winner of the Caulfield Cup last month, carried the top weight of 58.5kg, though Bailey said he doubted that could have been the cause of the horse’s death.
“In my view and my experience 58.5 kilos wouldn’t be attributable to what happened,” he said.
“It’s just unfortunately one of those things.”
Admire Rakti was one of two horses to die after the race, with seventh-placed Araldo suffering an injury to its leg after he was spooked by a spectator waving a flag while returning to the stalls.
The Mike Moroney-trained stayer had to be euthanized and Bailey said he would be talking to the Victoria Racing Club about the incident later on Wednesday.
“It’s something I will be speaking with the club today to see if we can put some measures in place that will prevent that from happening again,” he said in reference to the flag being waved by the spectator.
“Talking to the jockey Dwayne Dunn, who rode the horse, it just seemed to get spooked by the flag.”
The deaths of both horses cast a pall over the A$6.2 million ($5.38 million) race, with Protectionist romping to victory after bursting clear with about 200 meters to run.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Frank Pingue