Officials gather around the mare Viva Las as she lies on the track near the winning post.
Officials gather around the mare Viva Las as she lies on the track near the winning post. Sarah Harvey

Horse's death stuns race crowd

RACEGOERS were shocked on Saturday when Viva Las collapsed through the outside fence and died in the straight during race five.

Stewards said the five-year-old mare lost ground suddenly, 500m from the finish in the 1350m race.

The Sydney-trained mare collapsed in the home straight after being retired from the race by jockey Larry Cassidy.

Cassidy was not injured and stayed with his mount until a float arrived to take her away.

As he walked back to the jockeys' room, someone called down from the grandstand: "Are you all right Larry?"

"Yeah, I'm all right mate," Larry called back up.

The veterinary surgeon reported that Viva Las had collapsed and died, and a post mortem would be carried out to establish the cause of death.

Onlookers said it appeared she had had a heart attack.

She wobbled around the home turn and collapsed heavily into the fence. It appeared she was dead soon after she hit the ground.

Hidden Kisses, ridden by Jim Byrne, who was trailing Viva Las, had to be severely checked near the 400m to avoid her heels.

People watching the sad tale unfold nearby might not have realised how lucky they were.

In 2009 Ipswich Turf Club decided to erect a fence parallel to the outside fence in the home straight to keep the crowd away from the track.

Viva Las probably would have landed right in the middle of the crowd if what happened on Saturday had happened before 2009.

Until then, jockeys on the winners of the Ipswich Cup and Eye Liner Stakes had sometimes ridden along the fence close to the crowd, even high-fiving people.

Ironically, Ipswich Turf Club only last week bought a winch device that would allow horses to be pulled into a float out of sight of racegoers.



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