The Melbourne Cup, it is the race that stops the nation on the first Tuesday of November and it is our showpiece race each and every year. The Cup is set to transform like we have never seen before due to the horrific death and injury rate in our most recognisable race.
On Wednesday morning, Racing Victoria and the Victoria Racing Club announced they will be setting a “new global safety benchmark” for international and local horses competing in Melbourne during the spring. The board was presented with 44 recommendations on how to improve the safety and well being of the runners, and the board endorsed 41 of those.
To begin with, any international horse who has undergone orthopaedic surgery and/or sustained a previous fracture will not be allowed to compete.
In a surprise to plenty of members in the racing industry, a recommendation was made to retain the quarantine centre in Werribee, but with added improvement for horse welfare.
The Werribee International Quarantine Centre will be capped at 24 horses for the spring, after 29 horses were there last year. Any horse that steps into the quarantine centre will only be permitted one lead-up race in Australia before competing in the Melbourne Cup.
Before leaving their home country, horses will need to undergo multiple examinations at the expense of their owners. Even if they pass those tests with flying colours, they will still be subject to further tests from a Racing Victoria vet, as well as all the standard pre-race tests at Werribee.
Upon making these recommendations, a board of well known racing identities took into account the fatality report compiled by Racing Victoria following the horrific injury and eventual euthanasia of Anthony Van Dyck in the 2020 Melbourne Cup. The report showed that with further examination and precautionary diagnostic imaging, it may have identified the serious injury he suffered.
When runners arrive in Australia, all international horses will be required to undergo a CT scan of their distal limbs prior to each race in Victoria during the spring carnival at the expense of Racing Victoria.
All veterinary services will be completed by a Racing Victoria-appointed vet, instead of stables bringing on their own veterinarian.
All international runners in the Melbourne Cup who will be staying in Australia for their career must stay at Werribee until Cup week at Flemington ends before heading to their new stable.
In addition to all the recommendations put forward to the Racing Victoria Board for international horses came an important one for all runners competing in the Cup. All runners in the field for the Cup (international and local) must complete a pre-race veterinary inspection by a team of Racing Victoria vets on the day prior to the Melbourne Cup.
Notably one of the recommendations that was knocked back was the request to shrink the field down to 20 horses, from the 24 we will see go around in just over six months time.
Remarkably, there was still no talk about adding emergencies to the field, despite King Of Leogrance being scratched on the morning of the 2020 Melbourne Cup.
Nominations for the Melbourne Cup are set to be announced on August 3 to allow plenty of time for connections to get the all clear on their international runners.