by Ray Thomas and Brad Davidson, News Corp
THE Sydney Cup was sensationally called a no-race after one horse broke down and two riders were dislodged in a shocking incident just past the winning post on the first lap at Royal Randwick.
Almoonqith suffered a catastrophic breakdown and was later euthanised while jockeys Blake Shinn (Who Shot Thebarman) and James Doyle (Almoonqith) were still on the ground when Racing NSW stewards made the decision to call the Cup a no-race due to safety concerns.
But at least half the remaining jockeys in the Sydney Cup field were not aware of the stewards' controversial call and continued to contest the $2 million race.
Corey Brown, who didn't know the race had been called off until after he pulled up and was first past the post on Polarisation, was critical of the decision and said the Sydney Cup should have continued.
"I didn't know it was a no race until I turned around and started to come back," Brown said.
"Going past the post the first time I heard the crowd roar and I heard (race caller) Darren Flindell say one has broken down.
"I kept looking up to see if there was something coming head on towards us because that is a different story but nothing like that has happened.
"I was saying to Ollie (Damien Oliver) mid-race to keep to the right as there is a riderless horse.
"Then I come back and they say it is a no race - how does that work?
"It's a furlong after the winning post and if it was at the 100m mark I can understand."
Oliver rode Assign in the Cup and was also critical of the stewards' decision.
"It's a joke - if it had been on the home turn that is a totally different story," Oliver said.
"But it is after the race so what effect is it going to have?
"Safety and everything is paramount but there is a lot of money at stake and I've been starving myself for two weeks to ride mine for bloody nothing," he said.
But stewards insisted they had no other choice but to call the Sydney Cup a no-race in the interests of safety.
"The stewards were concerned as the field approached the 1600m in respect to the safety of the two riders - Blake Shinn on Who Shot Thebarman and James Doyle on Almoonqith," Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel said.
"Having regard to the condition of Almoonqith as the field made the turn into the 1600m the stewards discussed with the official starter who was positioned at the 800m mark as to whether the race would continue.
"Stewards became concerned that Almoonqith remained motionless on the track and had the potential to get up and run towards the field.
"Also Blake Shinn and James Doyle were still at that point of time situated on the track.
"The stewards in the order of safety and to ensure no one was going to be further hurt in respect to that incident declared the Sydney Cup a no race on the basis of safety."
The no-race was a bitter pill to swallow for English Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby after his horse Polarisation was first past the post. Stablemate Penglai Pavilion was also third past the post. Chance To Dance was second past the post.
Appleby had dominated staying races in Melbourne last spring but has had a forgettable trip down under this autumn.
His stayer, The Gold Trail, was put down after falling in the Mornington Cup, Polarisation was scratched on race morning from the Chairman's Handicap last week, and then the Sydney Cup controversy.
Australian Turf Club officials will announce whether the Sydney Cup will be rescheduled and run at a late date.