Melbourne Cup: Star Northern Hemisphere horse The Cliffsofmoher euthanised on track

Melbourne Cup horse The Cliffsofmoher has tragically been euthanised, after suffering a shoulder fracture early in the race.

Described as "tragedy" by Channel 7 commentator Bruce McAvaney, the star European horse pulled up lame, as the field passed the finishing post the first time around.

Jockey Ryan Moore checks The Cliffsofmoher after he broke down.
Jockey Ryan Moore checks The Cliffsofmoher after he broke down. Photo credit: Getty

Channel 7commenator Richard Freedman spotted the horse in distress before he entered the gate for the start of the race.

"Cliffsofmoher, he's melting like an ice-cream at the moment, he's sweating up badly."

The Irish-bred stayer was a favourite for the Cup, after a promising run at the Caulfield Cup last month, finishing third.

Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has called for an investigation into the death, which it described as "the most recent victim of the cruel annual spectacle".

For the fourth time in the past six years, the Cup has been shrouded by the death of horses.

French-trained horse Verema had to be put down after an injury suffered in the 2013 Cup.

A year later, pre-race favourite Admire Ratki died, after collapsing from heart failure in the stalls, minutes after the race.

In the same 2014 race, import Araldo had to be euthanised because of an injury suffered, when he was returning to scale.

Araldo placed seventh, but was spooked by a flag in the crowd on the way back to weigh-in, kicking out and breaking a rear leg on a fence.

In 2015, crowd favourite and three-time Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux had to be euthanised two-and-a-half weeks after the Cup, as a result of complications from an injury suffered in that year's race.

"Considering Australians hate cruelty to animals, commemorating a day on which horses routinely die in the Melbourne Cup is fundamentally un-Australian," a PETA spokesman said.

Stier said the injury to The Cliffsofmoher was an unfortunate incident that happened infrequently, as Victoria had one of the best safety records in world racing.

"Our sympathies are extended to Coolmore and the Williams family - the owners of The Cliffsofmoher - jockey Ryan Moore, trainer Aidan O'Brien and his staff, who cared for the horse and are greatly saddened by their loss."

The race was won by English horse Cross Counter.