Tragedy strikes at Moonee Valley

Tragedy struck the Murray Baker stable at Moonee Valley yesterday when top stayer Lion Tamer broke a leg after contesting the $A3 million Tatt’s Cox Plate.

Lion Tamer was rounding off his preparation for his main spring mission, the Melbourne Cup, and Baker became concerned when the dour stayer, winner of last year’s Group I VRC Derby, dropped out suddenly near the home turn.

Lion Tamer had been worked across from his outside draw to be vying for the lead going out of the Moonee Valley straight the first time and when he gave
ground sharply at the pressure end of the race Baker was concerned the horse may have bled. And it was several minutes before Baker realised the extent of
the problem.

Rider Hugh Bowman told Baker Lion Tamer “didn’t feel right” in the home straight and he felt the horse falter as he pulled him up. Then when Lion Tamer
turned to trot back his near hind leg snapped and he had to be put down.

Baker and owner Phil Bayly were naturally shocked by such a tragedy and the Cambridge trainer said Lion Tamer had been a pretty sound horse. “Maybe he had a little crack there, which gave way,” Baker told reporters.

The outcome was a complete contrast from almost 12 months ago when Lion Tamer emerged as New Zealand’s top three-year-old stayer when racing away to an effortless win in the 2500-metre Victoria Derby at Flemington. Right from that time, and despite a setback which robbed him off the remainder of his
three-year-old season, Lion Tamer had been set for the Melbourne Cup.

He was an early favourite for the Melbourne Cup after impressively winning the Underwood Stakes at Caulfield last month. His demise comes after stablemate Harris Tweed, also owned by Bayly, disappointed in Australia, causing his withdrawal from the Melbourne Cup.

Lion Tamer, a son of Storming Home, won of six of only 15 starts and earned more than $1.3 million in prizemoney.