Owner hits back at controversy surrounding Melbourne Cup tragedy

Nick Williams has revealed his devastation after The Cliffsofmoher had to euthanised after the Melbourne Cup.

The Melbourne Cup was again been marred by the death of a horse on Tuesday, this time the Irish-trained The Cliffsofmoher.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained horse suffered a fractured shoulder and had to be euthanised on the track, Racing Victoria’s executive general manager – integrity services, Jamie Stier, said in a statement.

Amid the backlash from fans and punters that a horse had died for the fourth time in the last six years, many claimed The Cliffsofmoher looked agitated and ‘sweaty’ before the race.

Ryan Moore riding Cliffsofmoher drops back after the injury. (Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

Many thought it looked like it didn’t want to race, but Williams has since responded to those claims.

“That horse was sound as a bell, there’s no doubt about that,” he said on SEN Radio on Thursday.

“You think what could we have done, but I keep coming back to the fact that there’s absolutely nothing we could have done because the horse as in absolutely perfect order when he got onto the truck going to the races.”

A large number of outraged fans also claimed the owners didn’t care for the welfare of their horses, hence why they are euthanised rather than rehabilitated when injured.

Nick Williams has defended The Cliffsofmoher’s participation. Image: Getty

But Williams has revealed how devastated his team are at the loss of their star horse.

“It destroys it for us,” Williams said. “The lads that look after the horses and live with them 24/7, they’re absolutely devastated, and I’d have to say no more devastated than us.

“It’s unfortunate when one of these catastrophic events take place. I really don’t know what to say.”

Williams said he does everything possible to look after his horses.

“Horse welfare is everything and we pride ourselves on really looking after our horses and to see that happen is absolutely devastating,” Williams said.

Horses are guided away from The Cliffsofmoher after it broke down. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

“My first thought was please don’t fall and take out others and put human life at risk as well.

“In those events, they can turn into something much worse. Fortunately (jockey) Ryan Moore did a wonderful job and managed to pull the horse up safely and make sure the horse suffered a minimum of pain.”

Fourth time in six years

Animal rights group PETA has called for an investigation into the death, which it described as “the most recent victim of the cruel annual spectacle”.

It is the fourth time in the past six years that the Cup has been shrouded by the death of horses.

French-trained horse Verema had to be put down after an injury suffered in the 2013 Cup.

A year later pre-race favourite Admire Ratki died after collapsing from heart failure in the stalls minutes after the race.

In the same 2014 race, import Araldo had to be euthanised because of an injury suffered when he was returning to scale.

Araldo placed seventh but was spooked by a flag in the crowd on the way back to weigh in, kicking out and breaking a rear leg on a fence.

In 2015 crowd favourite and three-time Cup runner up Red Cadeaux had to be euthanised two-and-a-half weeks after the Cup as a result of complications from an injury suffered in that year’s race.

“Considering Australians hate cruelty to animals, commemorating a day on which horses routinely die in the Melbourne Cup is fundamentally un-Australian,” a PETA spokesman said.

Stier said the injury to The Cliffsofmoher was an unfortunate incident that happened infrequently, as Victoria had one of the best safety records in world racing.

“Our sympathies are extended to Coolmore and the Williams family, the owners of The Cliffsofmoher, jockey Ryan Moore, trainer Aidan O’Brien and his staff who cared for the horse and are greatly saddened by their loss.”

with AAP