Hinch Says

Burying the Truth

Sport of kings? Photo Courtesy of: The Age 1979

MAYBE THEY’VE LEARNED something. The tragic death of Melbourne Cup favourite Admire Rakti yesterday brought back memories of the home straight collapse of Dulcify in the 1979 event. And the way the racing mob tried to put a PR gloss on it.

These days with Twitter and iPhone videos it is impossible to keep the lid on anyway and, at Flemington yesterday, the word spread like a grassfire.

Not like in another sport in 2001 when Channel 9 censored its own broadcast of the Albert Park Grand Prix so viewers wouldn’t know a track marshall had been killed  until  after Schumacher took  the chequered flag. So much for breaking news.

Yesterday, vets and stewards were quickly being interviewed and a bystander’s awful video of the horse’s stall collapse was soon in viral circulation.

The fate of Dulcify was far more contrived after the race favourite  suffered a broken pelvis at the 400 metre post when galloped on by the eventual winner  Hyperno.

The band played on as the Aga Khan presented the trophy and everybody pretended to ignore a champion being euthanased behind a canvas screen and hauled away.

The next day’s stories were all about a tearful trainer Colin Hayes and colourful versions of Dulcify’s final resting place. I was told Sunbury, others said Werribee.

a lush paddock

Today, I checked the website of ProGroup Racing which still says: ‘Dulcify was buried at Werribee a day later under a tree in a lush paddock’.

The article did also point out: ‘The dumping of the horse's body led to a controversy. Two people witnessed the body being dumped by the strappers who refuse to divulge details to this day’.

Well, they may not but I can.  And did --  during Cup Week back in 1979, when the  Spring Carnival broadcast channel was Channel 0 (now Channel 10) and the face of Cup Week was newsreader Annette Allison.

We were going out together at the time and my horse racing scandal story caused her some discomfort in the Committee Room.

I’m sure Colin Hayes’ tears were genuine as were the emotions of Admire Rakti’s connections but, despite all the money Dulcify had earned for its owners,  they decided not to spend (waste) any on a burial. The racehorse didn’t end up under a tree in a lush paddock. It was despatched to Pridham’s Knackery where, my sources told me, it was rendered and turned into chicken food pellets.

The only way I discovered the romantic burial story was  bullshit was because a 3AW listener saw the horse piled in the back of the truck along with a couple of  dead sheep. It was definitely Dulcify (they sent me photos to prove it) because the horse had a distinctive white blaze on its nose and an unusual ‘parrot beak’ mouth.

sad and grubby end

It was a sad and grubby end for a champ.

Footnote: Back then, I’m told,  the broadcasting network agreed to a  host of protocols ‘and stern warnings’ concerning what  could and could not be shown during the lead-up, running, and aftermath, of the race. I wonder if they still exist?

I wonder what happened to the carcass of Admire Rakti?


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