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Winner forgotten as horse dies mid race

CHRIS ROOTS
Last updated 09:55 20/01/2013

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The crowd lost interest in the winner of the last race at Rosehill when Circle Of Power crashed through the fence early in the straight, dead.

As Riva De Lago crossed the line to give Chris Waller another winning double, trainer Rod Craig and his team ran to their stricken galloper at the 350 metres and worried for jockey Blake Spriggs.

The six-year-old gelding had suffered a heart attack. Spriggs was lucky to escape with just a fat lip, the plastic rail playing a major role in keep him safe.

"I knew there was something wrong coming to the turn, I was trying to pull him up because I thought he had broken down," Spriggs said. "Then he just went towards the fence and I baled out."

Spriggs jumped as Circle Of Power collapsed. "The rail seemed to hold him up for a while," chief steward Ray Murrihy commented.

"He has never gone better than the last month," Craig told stewards. "I didn't see this coming."

Waller, who had watched the race on television, called the incident eerie because he could hear the crowd's reaction before it appeared on the screen. ''You just don't want to see things like that happen, never," he said.

Riva De Lago returned to his winning form courtesy of a great ride from Corey Brown to score his first win since joining the Waller team.

"His first two runs for me were really good, but you had to be disappointed with his last one," Brown said. "That was the very hot day, and we decided to ride him colder and let him hit the line and that's what he did."

The win gave Brown a success on his first day back after suspension and shoulder surgery. He picked his way through the field near the fence and pounced on the lead 100m mark.

"I wanted to give them the easiest run I could because I thought he might be suspect at the 1400m," Brown said. "I didn't want to get to the front too early. I got a great run through and when I got the gap he just exploded."

The five-year-old Riva De Lago won by 2¼ lengths from Zakynthos Imprintz, then Testarhythm.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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