Official steer horses away at the end of the Melbourne Cup. Picture: Alex Coppel
Official steer horses away at the end of the Melbourne Cup. Picture: Alex Coppel

Melbourne Cup: Truth about the horse that died

MARGARET was furious.

A horse had died in the Melbourne Cup after being whipped to death - well at least that's how she saw it - and she was in a right old state.

Margaret didn't know much about racing. Or horses for that matter. But she was upset.

So after arriving home from the office party feeling a little bloated because she'd overdone it on the chicken skewers and pork sliders, she took off her fur coat, undid her cowhide belt and logged in to Facebook.

"I refuse to watch the Melbourne Cup ever again," she wrote, adding a #nuptothecup hashtag that made her feel just as clever as anything.

But she wasn't alone. Across town Susan was madly tweeting "stop the cruelty". A few weeks earlier she'd had a tramp stamp tattooed on her back using ink that contained the charred bones of dead animals. Today she was declaring "the Melbourne Cup is for bogans".

Steven had heard the horse was sweating before the race and despite having no background in racing immediately formed an expert opinion he knew had to be shared with the world.

"Absolute negligence by the owners, trainers and the jockey," he wrote.

Mark watched raceday revellers board his tram and silently judged them as he ran his hand through a head of hair that he knew was looking spot on because he'd used his favourite shampoo that morning. It had been tested on animals but he liked the way it made his fringe sit so he used it anyway.

How could these savages go to Flemington each year, he thought, as he sipped on an orange juice containing vitamins obtained from sheep's wool.

As he scrolled through Instagram he saw a photo of the horse that had died at the track posted by an animal welfare group.

He double-tapped before adding RIP to the comments. It made him feel better about himself.

A sad sight. Picture: Jason Edwards
A sad sight. Picture: Jason Edwards

Back at Flemington the veterinarians who had attended the horse on-track were inconsolable. They'd acted urgently with compassion and professionalism after realising the injury was untreatable. They didn't speak.

The horse's owner and trainer were shattered too. They'd loved the colt, treating it as well as any of their children since it first stepped into their lives. But after confirming the worst news imaginable, they stayed quiet.

The horse's jockey was just as dismayed. He'd pulled up at the first sign the horse was in trouble in the hope of saving it. He didn't speak to reporters.

The commentator who had mentioned the horse looked nervous before the race was devastated his comments had been connected to what happened next. He knew no self-respecting jockey or trainer would allow it to be loaded into the barrier if they saw any signs it wasn't right.

But he also knew those up in arms about the situation would find something else to get outraged about within a day or two so he decided not to risk adding any fuel to the fire.

We'll never know what the horse thought.

But you could tell by the way he used to nuzzle his head on the shoulder of his stablehand he trusted those who looked after him.

And it was clear by the way he used to get jumpy when he couldn't join the other horses for trackwork, or the way he walked with an extra pep in his step on raceday, that he loved to race.

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