THE devastated trainer of a horse who died when yards away from winning a £400,000 race has opened up on her heartbreak.
Maple Leaf Mel was comfortably in control of the Grade 1 Test Stakes for three-year-old fillies at Saratoga in the US on Saturday night.
But disaster struck ten yards from the post when the horse, owned by NFL legend Bill Parcells, stumbled and fell.
The horse was fatally injured and jockey Joel Rosario was rushed to hospital to have stitches to cuts on his face.
Maple Leaf Mel, who was undefeated in four races until that point, was trained by Melanie Giddings.
After an outpouring of support from the racing world, Giddings wrote on Twitter to thank everyone for their words while addressing the extent of her own grief.
She wrote: "I wake up in tears and wonder how God could take her from me, but nothing will bring her back."
Giddings earlier said: "Thank you everyone for your messages.
"I can't even pull myself together right now or know when I will ever be able to.
"Maple Leaf Mel's health and happiness took priority over my own for the last two years and now I'm lost without her.
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"She was a true Grade 1 champion."
Trainer Keri Brion was one of the many who responded to Giddings.
She wrote: "I lost my first G1 winner in a freak fall at Belmont Park in my first year of training.
"He was my everything, my best friend, my reason for getting up in the AM.
"It never stops hurting but in time you'll smile at your memories instead of crying."
The New York Racing Association confirmed Maple Leaf Mel was euthanised due to the severity of the injury to her front right leg.
The horse had passed the pre-race vets' inspection and was fit to race.
Jockey Tyler Gaffione, who won on Pretty Mischievous, said: "I feel so bad for the connections of Mel.
"It’s hard to enjoy this one thinking about that. My condolences go out to their team.
"Hopefully they’re able to get through this and God bless them."
Pretty Mischievous' trainer Brendan Walsh delivered the blanket of flowers given to the race winner to Giddings on Sunday.
Walsh said: "Maple Leaf Mel was the best horse in the race, it was just horrible what happened.
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"We weren't sure whether it'd be a nice thing or not to do it.
"But the team at Godolphin (owners of Pretty Mischievous), they were all for it as well. And I think Melanie liked it."
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