Cup death prompts Victorian racing changes
A review into the death of Anthony Van Dyck has revealed the Melbourne Cup runner had a condition that causes lameness, prompting new measures to protect international gallopers.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained 2019 English Derby winner and Cup top weight was euthanised after suffering a fractured fetlock in last year's $8 million race at Flemington.
It marked the seventh Melbourne Cup death since 2013, prompting an extensive Racing Victoria review into the rate of injuries sustained by international horses in the 3200m race and others during the spring carnival.
A report into the death of the five-year-old stallion found the stable's private veterinarian diagnosed him with Proximal Suspensory Desmitis (PSD) in all four legs after arriving in Australia.
The American Association of Equine Practitioners notes PSD in the forelimb can result in a sudden and temporary onset of lameness.
That initial diagnosis was consistent with Anthony Van Dyck's post-mortem, although the report stressed the condition was "considered unrelated to the fatal fractures".
"Despite the absence of clinical signs which would ordinarily prompt further diagnostic examination, precautionary diagnostic imaging, such as prior to the Melbourne Cup, may have identified the potential for a future serious racing injury," it said.
The review group, led by Racing Victoria's Jamie Stier and counting champion Sydney trainer Chris Waller among its members, found there were multiple contributing factors to injuries among international horses travelling to Australia.
It proposed 44 recommendations to mitigate injury risks, with RV endorsing 41 of the measures to be implemented before the spring carnival this year.
They include mandatory CT limb scans for international horses before each race, the Werribee International Horse Centre accepting fewer imported gallopers and a maximum of one start for WIHC-based stayers prior to the Melbourne Cup.
The three recommendations that failed to gain RV approval were a change to the Melbourne Cup's minimum targeted track rating, a reduction in starting field size from 24 to 20 and an increase to the minimum handicap rating.
RV chairman Brian Kruger said the racing industry had a duty to ensure the safety and welfare of every horse in every race.
"We know some of these initiatives will be onerous on connections, but we make no apology for making the safety of horses our priority," he said.
But the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses questioned why the compulsory CT scans didn't apply beyond the spring racing carnival.
"The measures Racing Victoria put in place to address the ongoing deaths at the Melbourne Cup must be put in place for all horses, on all days, at all racetracks," campaign director Elio Celotto said.
Cup runners Anthony Van Dyck, The Cliffsofmoher, Red Cadeaux and Verema all suffered fatal limb injuries over the past eight years, while Admire Rakti and Araldo died under different circumstances.
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