The steeplechase begins. Despite a shaky start, Frou-Frou overtakes all the other horses except Gladiator. Near the end, Frou-Frou, jumping beautifully, passes Gladiator. Only one simple ditch remains and Vronsky, concentrating on trying to beat Gladiator by a long margin, doesn’t pay attention to the easy jump. Vronsky shifts in the saddle, and suddenly he realizes that he’s made a terrible mistake, and Frou-Frou can’t clear the jump: she’s broken her back and must be shot. To his dismay, Vronsky is himself uninjured.
Vronsky and Frou-Frou are nervous at the beginning of the race, but they overcome a shaky start and seem like they’re going to be as triumphant as everyone predicted. However, at the very last simple jump, Vronsky isn’t paying attention to what is in front of his nose, instead thinking of future glory. The downfall foreshadows oncoming disaster in his relationship with Anna.