Wednesday, November 05, 2014

A mighty Cup marred

Well, we got as far as the first couple of days of November with our lovely weather.  We've had some very sharp bursts of rain since then, from Sunday onwards, and it's getting colder too.  But we're still doing relatively OK, especially as yesterday (Tuesday 4th of November, Melbourne Cup Day - although obviously the Cup had been run by the time that day dawned in the UK) saw a few hours of magnificent sunshine coming out of nowhere - as you can see in this photograph and in the one in the next paragraph, when the uplifting conditions were making it easier for me to cope with having gone the night without any sleep.

My sleepless night had resulted from my regular annual assignment in the ATR studios, co-presenting the overnight coverage of the Melbourne Cup Day card at Flemington.  I used to do this initially alongside Dave Compton, but recent years have seen Matt Chapman at the helm.  Other than being there, this is the best way I could spend the raceday, and we had our usual highly enjoyable show  I only hope that any viewers that there were enjoyed it too.  We went on air at 11pm (ie 10 am Australian time) which was half an hour before the first race.  And then we went off air at around 4.30 am (ie 3.30 pm Australian time) which was half an hour after the Cup, the seventh race, had been run.

My Cup one-two-three had been Admire Rakti - Protectionist - Au Revoir, so I did at least find the winner, even if I had put him in second place.  Admire Rakti's (a) dismal run and (b) death both, thus far, remain a mystery.  Matt and I were lucky in that we had gone off air before news of the problems for him and Araldo (both of which proved fatal) began to filter through, so we were able to end the show on a good note, rather than the desperately sad note on which the day ended for racegoers.

No doubt things will become clearer once the post-mortem on Admire Rakti has been completed, but at present his death is a mystery as well as a tragedy.  He looked wonderful before the race, physically beautiful and mentally serene.  But he ran atrociously, cutting out a long way from home; and then, as we now know, he dropped down dead half an hour or so after the race.  The obvious reaction when the heavily backed favourite for one of the biggest betting races in the world runs like that and then dies is that he had been 'got at', but one would hope that the post-mortem will establish whether or not that was the case.  Certainly the blood test will establish whether he was doped with a drug known to the analysts.

It could, of course, be that he simply had a heart-attack or aneurism or something like that, which would explain why he died suddenly.  It would, though, be a remarkable coincidence that it happened on that particular day, rather than on any other day; and it wouldn't really explain why he ran so very badly.  One would have thought that it would have been very, very hard to 'get at' him - but there will have been massive sums of money riding on his performance, and a lot of it with people whose ruthlessness and ingenuity should not be under-estimated, so under the circumstances we could not regard such a thing as having been impossible.  Anyway, no doubt this, like most other things, will become less unclear as time passes.

Photographs three and four were taken looking into the sun in Rayes Lane on Saturday morning and on the A11 this afternoon respectively.  And photograph five is lovely: two heroines, Ethics Girl and Indira, relaxing at Hilborough Stud this morning.

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