ALFA, one of the best horses ever produced in Tasmania, has died unexpectedly of a heart attack just short of his 21st birthday.
Owner Barry Larter said that the gelding had shown no signs of ill-health before being found dead in his paddock.
‘‘He was buried on the property where he was living in retirement and I’ve had a special plaque made to mark his grave,’’ Mr Larter said.
‘‘It commemorates his five years as a racehorse and 13 years as a police horse.’’
Alfa was unbeaten in six starts in Tasmania as a two-year-old under the care of Spreyton trainer Barry Campbell.
He then joined the Bart Cummings stables in Melbourne where he won four successive races in the spring of 1996 including the group 1 Caulfield Guineas.
He was considered extremely unlucky when he dead-heated for second in the group 1 Victoria Derby.
In his four-year-old season, Alfa ran a string of seconds behind outstanding gallopers Might And Power, Filante, Mouawad, Ebony Grosve and Cangronde before unplaced runs in the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup.
He continued to race at the highest level but was plagued by a recurring tendon injury for the remainder of his career and was retired in February 1999 with career earnings of $885,000.
In 2008, Alfa was among the fourth group of inductees into the Tasmanian Racing Hall Of Fame.
Mr Larter offered Alfa to the Victoria Mounted Police at the end of his racing career and the gelding became the premier ceremonial and security-guard horse in that state.