Racing Victoria (RV) has today released findings of a Stewards’ and veterinary investigation into the death of Japanese horse Admire Rakti following the running of the Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on 4 November 2014. The summary of the investigation and its findings is as follows:

1. A post-mortem examination was performed by the University of Melbourne and analytical testing of samples collected from Admire Rakti both before and after his death has been performed by Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) and other expert laboratories in Australia.

2. Based on the expert reports obtained during the investigation, RV is of the opinion that the cause of Admire Rakti’s death was acute cardiac failure (heart failure) as a result of a cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) that can be attributed to natural causes.

3. No substances prohibited under the Rules of Racing, nor any substance that might have contributed to the horse’s death, have been detected in any samples collected from the horse. 

4. The post-mortem examination identified uncommon changes in the horse’s kidney which, following comprehensive testing and expert analysis, can be attributed to natural causes. An overview of this part of the investigation is provided as follows:



a) The post-mortem examination identified uncommon changes in the horse’s kidney that could possibly have been the result of a lack of oxygen prior to death, exposure to toxins prior to death or very rapid onset of autolysis (natural decomposition) just after the time of death.



b) RV subsequently sought specialist analytical testing to eliminate the presence of substances toxic to the kidney in the samples, and obtained further expert pathological opinions on the nature and possible causes of the death. These further enquiries extended the time period of the investigation.



c) The comprehensive analytical testing of tissues and body fluids collected from the horse showed no evidence of any substance toxic to the kidneys.



d) RV obtained opinions from several world-leading pathology experts, including specialist kidney pathologist, Dr Rachel Cianciolo, Co-Director of the International Veterinary Renal Pathology Service at Ohio State University (USA). Dr Cianciolo’s definitive opinion was that the kidney changes were due to rapid autolysis (natural decomposition).



e) Although very uncommon, based on the analytical testing and expert opinions obtained, the changes seen in Admire Rakti’s kidney can be attributed to natural causes.



During the course of the investigation, the Stewards also considered and noted the following:

5. that a review of Admire Rakti’s veterinary and treatment records found there was nothing that would give rise to any issue with the horse nor constitute a breach of the Rules of Racing;

6. that all runners in the Emirates Melbourne Cup were under full-time security surveillance from 3pm on 3 November 2014 and that nothing untoward was reported regarding the management and preparation of Admire Rakti in the 24 hours prior to the race;

7. that a veterinary examination of Admire Rakti on the morning of the Emirates Melbourne Cup by RV’s Head of Equine Welfare and Veterinary Services, Dr Brian Stewart, determined that the horse was fully fit and suitable to take his place in the race;

8. that the horse’s behaviour on the day of the Emirates Melbourne Cup, in particular prior to the start when attendants were attempting to load him into the barriers, was consistent with the horse’s pattern of behaviour at previous race starts in Japan and Australia; and

9. that, upon review of the horse’s racing history and an interview conducted with jockey Zac Purton, Stewards were satisfied in all circumstances with the riding tactics adopted on Admire Rakti in the Emirates Melbourne Cup.



Quotes from Dr Brian Stewart, RV’s Head of Equine Welfare and Veterinary Services:



“Following an extensive post-mortem examination and investigation we are of the opinion that Admire Rakti died of acute cardiac failure as a result of a cardiac arrhythmia that can be attributed to natural causes.

“We did find uncommon changes in Admire Rakti’s kidney which required additional analysis and review by kidney experts. It was ultimately determined that those changes can be attributed to natural causes.

“This death has been categorised as a sudden death which are thankfully very uncommon in Victorian thoroughbred racing with the recorded incidence 0.007 percent of an average 43,500 starts each season.”



Quotes from Terry Bailey, RV’s Chairman of Stewards:



“Extensive analytical testing has been conducted on pre and post-race samples taken from Admire Rakti on the day of the Emirates Melbourne Cup and no prohibited substances have been found.

“We are satisfied that the horse was presented in a fit state free of any substances that could have contributed to its death and unfortunately it has suffered a rare sudden death due to heart failure.

“In tabling these results we once again extend our condolences to the connections of Admire Rakti who are still naturally devastated at the horse’s passing in such tragic circumstances.”