Vale Red Cadeaux - when is enough enough?

I write today with great sadness.  In the lead up to this year's Melbourne Cup, much ado was made about the grand old boy Red Cadeaux's 5th assault on our great race.  In previous years I had underestimated the red horse's abilities while selecting our trifecta horses for myself and my sister, because in his 3 second placings I had left him out every time.  This year, out of respect, I put him in.  However deep down I felt a great uneasiness about this 5th attempt at the Cup.  The horse was 10 years old by our standards.  He was lining up for his 54th race start.  Were his connections asking for too much?  

The horse had won a remarkable $8.108m dollars during his career.  An incredible amount of money for a horse that had only won 7 races.  His 2nd to Criterion in the Queen Elizabeth should have been a fitting end to his career, and he could have stayed in Australia and headed to Living Legends.  I'm sure Red and I would have grown fond of each other there, as I have photographed for the retirement farm since 2010.  It was with some sadness that I read he was jetting out of Australia immediately after his 2nd placing at Royal Randwick, first to Sha Tin, then back home to England, before returning him to Melbourne for that fateful first Tuesday in November.  Red's efforts after that wonderful Queen Elizabeth Stakes efforts were a sobering 11th of 12th at Sha Tin on 26 April, 7th of 7th at Ascot on 20 June, and 3rd of 6th at Newmarket on 15 August.

We talked about the race, as we do, numerous times, in the weeks leading up to Tuesday 3 November 2015.  Every time the subject of Red Cadeaux came up, I said "I just want the horse to finish safely".  In all honesty, I'd wished his connections had retired Red after his wonderful 2nd in the G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes during the 2015 The Championships. 

When I started the annual rushed jog back down the home stretch at Flemington after Michelle Payne had crossed the finishing line on Prince of Penzance to find a spot for the return to scale photographs, my gaze found the sight of a horse pulled up before the post.  In dismay I realised it was Red.  I was in tears by the time I reached the clock tower, and I didn't feel I did any justice to the images after the Cup because I distracted by Red's fate.  Our hopes were raised slightly when the dreaded green screens came down, and the horse was loaded onto the horse ambulance, and we felt slightly more hopeful at news that an operation was planned.  However my hopes fell when I read it was an injury to the seasamoid bone.  They are tricky to repair, and all sorts of complications post operative can occur.  

I wish Red had retired after the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.  I wish that I was looking forward to photographing him on my next trip to Living Legends for the wonderful team lead by Andrew Clarke.  I wish that Red was still here.

Red Cadeaux running 2nd, by the shortest of margins, to Dunaden in the 2011 Melbourne Cup.

Back in 2012 for another tilt at the Cup.  He ran out of the placings for the first time.
2nd in 2013 to Fiorente, himself runner up in 2012.
2nd, again, to Protectionist in 2014.  I was staggering, sick with radiation from cancer treatment by this stage. 

Back on my feet again, and able to get up early at last after the gruelling radiation treatment, I travelled to Werribee to see Red Cadeaux at trackwork after his arrival back in Melbourne for the Australian Cup and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. 

He ran a good 5th in the Australian Cup, defeating Protectionist, his conqueror in the Melbourne Cup comfortably.
A familiar sight in Melbourne.  Red being unsaddled in the placegetters stalls.  He was usually in number 2 though.

In Sydney Town, at the International Quarantine Centre at Canterbury Racecourse.  Big Red was taking aim at The Championships.

Everyone was fond of Red.  This was his vet in Sydney.

Red rolling in the sawdust of his stable at Canterbury.  These images ran in the paper in the week leading up to The Championships.  His popularity was enormous.

At Royal Randwick for the first time.  Red canters to the barrier before the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
How I wish this had of been his last hurrah.  He was magnificent, running a fine second to the globe trotting Criterion.

I didn't get to Werribee this Spring, because it was tricky with the kids.  Here Red canters to the barrier before the Cup.
Michelle Payne rides Prince of Penzance to victory over Frankie on Max Dynamite, while Gerald Mosse pulls up a stricken Red Cadeaux.

Red's frantic strapper Steve runs to his horse, with Robin Trevor Jones close behind.

Ed Dunlop and Robin Trevor Jones
Robin Trevor Jones

When the screens came down our hopes raised slightly, perhaps, just perhaps, Red might be ok?
Trainer Ed Dunlop and his wife Becky

A final portrait.  I took this in the horse stalls at Flemington a few hours before the Cup.


Popular posts from this blog

Rachel Alexandra - a 2am post

Photography and the Thoroughbred Industry

Permission to jolly well speak, right now Sir!!