A RACEHORSE which threw its rider during a workout at Balnarring beach last week later panicked and swam out to sea and drowned.
Regular beach walker Marnee Fraser, who witnessed the incident, said she saw the rider-less horse – later identified as Miss Pandanus, trained by Mick Kent and David Noonan, of Cranbourne – standing distressed and alone near the creek, 8.30am, Tuesday 8 January.
“It looked at me and it was a big animal and I’m not a horse person,” she said.
“Apparently it had thrown its female rider after its regular rider had called in sick. It galloped towards Somers beach near the [Lord Somers] camp.
“The horse then took off towards the Somers Yacht Club where maybe a dog frightened it because it stopped running along the beach and headed out into the water maybe 200 metres.
“Then it stopped swimming and looked around and suddenly its head dropped below the surface. All of a sudden it came up flailing its legs and then just stopped and floated. It was dead.
“There was nothing we could do. They are such flighty things and there were no horse people in sight. It was a most horrible thing.”
Ms Fraser said she called the Tulum general store so they could alert the horse’s trainers to the tragedy.
However, they had already managed to get a boat to look for the animal which was found floating 50 metres off Somers beach.
“A tractor was brought from Somers Yacht Club to put a rope around the body and haul it onto the beach,” Ms Fraser said.
“By this time more people had turned up and it was lucky there were no kids on the beach.”
Balnarring Foreshore Parks and Reserves manager Paul Wittwer described the horse’s drowning as an “unfortunate incident that was dealt with quickly by rangers”. He said the foreshore committee would meet with the trainers next week to “review the situation”.
It is believed trainers have about 100 beach permits.
Racing Victoria confirmed the horse’s death Thursday morning. “We are advised that [Miss Pandanus] was at Balnarring beach to exercise when it dislodged its rider and travelled along the beach before entering the water and ultimately getting into difficulties,” corporate communications general manager Shaun Kelly said.
“We are pleased to report that the rider and no members of the public were injured in what was a tragic and, thankfully, a very rare accident.
“Our thoughts are with the owners, her trainers and their stable staff, who all cared for the horse and who are greatly saddened by their loss.”
Mr Kent was contacted for comment.
The tragedy again raises questions about whether racehorses should be allowed to train at the beach rather than at a purpose-built centre.