Jockey Ryan Maloney, on mount Beltrois, crashes to the ground after winning the Red Tempo Handicap.

Jockey Ryan Maloney, on mount Beltrois, crashes to the ground after winning the Red Tempo Handicap. Photo: Getty Images

Horses get to you. Even the toughest racing men and women form strong attachments to those in their care. So when serious or fatal injury strikes even the most hardened stuggle to contain their emotions.

Robbie Griffiths, one of the state's most successful and talented trainers, is no different to any of his colleagues, so his desperation when triumph turned to tragedy for his gelding Beltrois was palpable at Flemington on Saturday afternoon.

Seconds after he was cheering in triumph as the seven year old drove through a gap close home to score in a blanket finish to the 1000 metre Red Tempo Handicap he was plunged into despair as the son of Bel Esprit crashed to the turf and crumpled in a heap, giving jockey Ryan Maloney a crushing fall.

Beltrois was put down shortly after. He broke his shoulder and stumbled just strides after he had stuck his neck out to grab a tremendous win. Sadly his injuries ensured there was no hope of survival, and he was euthanised on the course.

Maloney was taken to the Epworth Hospital for observation, conscious but complaining of pain in his wrist.

For Griffiths, who was also a part owner of the horse, and everyone at Flemington on a sunny summer afternoon, it was another grim reminder of the beauty and fragility of racehorses and how their speed, grace and power rests on such frail and delicate limbs _ limbs that can give under stress at any moment.

"Its a great emotional leveller. I was high fiving with my brother in law (Reid Balfour) then we heard the commentator say a horse is down and we realised it was ours. We hurdled the fence to get to him on the course. Its so sad," said a visibly shaken Griffiths, who had patiently nursed the horse back to form and fitness.

"Its my daughter Madison's first horse, we came straight to Flemington with him. She's obviously upset. His stable name is Reid after my brother in law. We said we would be happy to keep him in the paddock for the next 20 years ( to get better if there was a chance of saving him) but there was nothing they could do

" It was a freakish accident. It had nothing to do with why he had been off the track for a long spell. His mother (Vaingt Trois) was the first yearling I bought. She was unbelievably talented but unlucky. Her very last foal was a full brother (to Beltrois) but she died foaling. He's outstanding looking and you will see him at Flemington."

The $21 shot was first up having not raced since November 2011, so his victory was a wonderful advertisement for Griffiths skills as a conditioner. Beltrois showed courage and gameness in his final moments to triumph over the $2.40 favorite Go The Knuckle and Hotham Heights ($4.80) in a race in which a length covered the first four home.

On a happier note a youngster of potential emerged earlier in the day in the shape of the Darley two year old Safeguard, who could be aimed at the Blue Diamond or the Golden Slipper if he comes through his debut triumph without any ill effects.

It is doubtful if there were many better bred gallopers at Flemington than the colt, who is by Exceed and Excel out of Preserve, who scored in a Group One VRC Sires Produce Stakes as a two year old over 1400 metres. Preserve is closely related to former Darley star Denman, who was one of the top colts of his generation before being sent to Sheik Mohammed's European operation.

" He's a natural horse with good speed, he can jump well and put himself there. It was pretty effortless really," said Snowden of his charge, who completed the 1000 metre journey of the Christmas Season Plate in 57.12 seconds, a decent time for a youngster.

He was the first leg of a Darley treble, completed by the filly Benenden (trained by Anthony Freedman) who took out the Spotless Handicap at $4.80, and the mare Gig($8) who gave Vlad Duric (who rode Safeguard) and Snowden a double in the finale, the Fiesta Star Handicap.

Class told in the 1600 metre Skipton Handicap when Mick Price's lightly raced four year old Fast and Free ($3.80) defied his 58.5 kilogram burden to score a convincing victory proving conclusively that he could win at a mile.

Apprentice Damian Lane will not forget the meeting in a hurry either. He rode the Danny O'Brien trained Keep Cool ($9) to a narrow victory in the 2000 metre Comic Court handicap, seeing off the well supported Tuscan Fire in a driving finish. The win means the West Australian youngster has now outridden his claim.