Jockey Frankie Dettori said he wanted to cry after his narrow Melbourne Cup defeat on Master Of Reality and subsequent demotion and eight-day ban.
The 48-year-old, who is in the latter stages of a trophy-laden career, has featured 17 times in Australia’s ‘race that stops a nation’ but never won.
He looked set to end the 26-year losing stretch but was just headed by winner Vow And Declare in a tight finish.
Nick Williams, who owns Dettori’s mount, said: “I’m shattered for him.”
Vow And Declare, ridden up the inside rail by Craig Williams for trainer Danny O’Brien, provided an all-Australian success.
- Melbourne Cup: Report, result, reaction and analysis
Stewards inquired into the finish of the race and Master Of Reality, trained in Ireland by Joseph O’Brien, was demoted to fourth from second.
Dettori was penalised for impeding the run of fourth-placed Il Paradiso, trained by Joseph’s father Aidan, who was promoted to third, with British hope Prince Of Arran upgraded a place to second.
“I want to cry,” was Dettori’s only reaction after the two-mile contest.
The Italian jockey was given a nine-meeting suspension from riding in the state of Victoria, although he is about to start a four-week stint in Japan.
Prince Of Arran’s jockey Michael Walker was fined AUS10,000 (£5,400) and suspended for seven race meetings for overuse of the whip.
The race took place against a backdrop of welfare concerns after six equine fatalities since 2013 and separate horse cruelty claims in Australia.
Of the 24 runners, all returned safely apart from Rostropovich, who sustained a stress fracture in his pelvis.
The gelding was described by Racing Victoria as being “in a stable condition, comfortable and receiving the best veterinary care”.
Tuesday’s race marked the latest chapter in a remarkable year for Dettori, who has secured a personal record of 19 top-level Group One wins.
This defeat comes after surprise losses last month on Enable in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and Stradivarius on British Champions Day at Ascot.
It is not the first time Dettori has fallen foul of the stewards in the Melbourne Cup, with the rider banned for a month and fined A$20,000 for causing interference on runner-up Max Dynamite four years ago. He was also suspended for a month for careless riding on Mamool in 2004.
Nick Williams said: “Nothing would have been better than for Master Of Reality to have won the race for him.”
Joseph O’Brien, who won the 2017 Melbourne Cup with Rekindling, said he was disappointed for Dettori, who was second in the 1999 renewal on Central Park.
“I’m more gutted for Frankie than I am for myself,” he told The Age. “I’ll be back. I don’t know if Frankie is ever going to win this race.”
Dettori, who is 49 next month, had often said he might retire when he reaches 50, though he told the BBC in January he could go on for another five years.