Culture

Injured Melbourne Cup Horse Red Cadeaux Euthanised, Bringing Cup Death Toll To Four In Three Years

The race that stops a nation, and also the beating hearts of the horses that run in it.

Melbourne Cup: the race that stops a nation, and also the beating hearts of the horses that run in it.

Following a leg injury sustained at the Cup earlier this month, triple runner-up and fan favourite Red Cadeaux became the fourth horse to die from competing in the race in just three years. It follows the deaths of two horses last year — Admire Rakti, a frontrunner who collapsed and died at the stalls after staggering to last place, and Araldo, who was euthanised after breaking his leg when he became frightened by the crowd — and another in 2013.

Trainer Ed Dunlop was originally optimistic about the 10-year-old’s recovery, but a statement released by Racing Victoria this morning said that he has been euthanised due to complications arising from his broken foreleg.

“This is my saddest day in racing. Red Cadeaux was a much loved member of our family and my thoughts are with his owner Mr [Ronnie] Arculli and my staff, particularly Robin Trevor-Jones and Steve Nicholson, who spent every day caring for this horse,” Dunlop said.

“Unfortunately the complication was irreversible and the decision to euthanise the horse, whilst terribly hard, was made in his best interests.”

As we’ve reported before, if a horse breaks a leg or shoulder, the complex network of bones can shatter, making them almost impossible to repair; this, coupled with the inability of horses to lie down for extended periods (they sleep standing), makes it difficult for them to recover — thus, they are put down.

And while it’s true that a horse can injure a leg under a number of innocent circumstances — even from just stumbling over some rocks in a paddock — it’s fairly safe to assume those chances are greatly increased when the horse is routinely made to run around a race track at full speed for a large proportion of its young life.

While tributes flow for the incredibly popular ‘Big Red’, debate surrounding the ethical nature — or lack thereof — of horse racing has predictably been re-sparked.

Melbourne Cup and the industry it exists within aren’t going to go away or even improve overnight, but with horses continuing to die for no other reason than gambling and entertainment, it’s hard to fathom the public’s support enduring much longer.

Plus, if this lady pushing over a police officer at the Cup can get more attention than the race itself, surely we can replace horses with drunk people without affecting the day’s economic contribution in the slightest?

Feature image via Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images.