Racing Victoria has vowed to investigate why there has been a series of fatalities on Melbourne Cup day after Anthony Van Dyck was euthanased on Tuesday.
- Anthony Van Dyck was the sixth Melbourne Cup horse to die in seven years at Flemington
- Animal rights groups are calling for an end to racing after the deaths
- Racing Victoria says it will look at all factors before deciding on any changes to the sport
The English Derby winner went in to the Melbourne Cup as one of the favourites, but broke down at the top of the finishing straight at Flemington and was pulled up at the 350m mark.
Racing Victoria’s integrity chief Jamie Stier said on Wednesday that the organisation would conduct a post-mortem and also check the horse’s veterinary history.
Mr Stier said each of the fatalities at the Melbourne Cup in recent years had been investigated.
“In recent times since The Cliffsofmoher incident [in 2018], we have the horses prior to their arrival in Australia having X-rays done of all four legs, a video of the horse trotting up for the veterinary examination and a pre-travel examination done by their own stable vet in their own country.
“Additionally we have an independent regulatory vet examine the horse as well.
“This year there was one horse that did not travel as a result of these procedures.”
The five-year-old stallion is the seventh Melbourne Cup day death in as many years, prompting calls for an investigation from the RSPCA.
“There were some changes made following a fatality in 2018 to track and to compliance and check-in with regard to international horses coming in. It doesn’t look like that’s worked. There’s more to be done.”
Anthony Van Dyck, who placed second in the Caulfield Cup a fortnight ago, was carrying 58.5 kilograms.
A number of horses that have died in the Melbourne Cup have been close to the top of the weights — including topweight Admire Rakti, who died after the 2014 race when he collapsed in his stall.
Asked whether weight was a key factor, Mr Stier replied: “It’s a very different conversation on whether a horse can win carrying a certain weight as opposed to any potential impact on its welfare.”
“But it’s something that we’re conscious of and we’re not going to leave any stone unturned – we’re going to look at all the factors.”
Pressed on the number of recent deaths in the Cup, Mr Stier said: “We take a very considered approach … we’re not stepping away from the fact it concerns us, and we’re very open and mindful of our horses and their wellbeing.”
“We won’t be jumping to conclusions and we will be making evidence-based decisions.”
Animal rights groups call for end to racing
Animal rights group PETA called for an “immediate investigation” into the death and an end to the racing industry.
“How many more deaths will it take before we call time on this disgraceful demonstration of national senselessness?” it asked.
Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick said the Melbourne Cup was “beginning to feel like Groundhog Day”.
“Almost every year, a horse breaks down and is killed,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
“While the scenes today were confronting, nobody should be surprised.
“A racehorse dies every three days on Australian racetracks. The only difference is on Melbourne Cup day, the whole country is watching.”
Later on Tuesday, jockey Kerrin McEvoy was fined a record $50,000 and handed a 13-meeting suspension for excessive whip use in the closing stages of the race.
Race stewards found him to have whipped Tiger Moth 21 times, including 13 times before reaching the 100m mark of the race, before finishing behind winner Twilight Payment.
Jockeys are only allowed to use the whip five times before the 100m mark.
“Whips definitely have to go as a performance-enhancing device,” Ms Walker said.
She said a vote to phase them out will be before Racing Australia on November 11.
Mr Stier said Racing Victoria’s position was to “support transitioning away from use of the whip for encouragement”.
However he said the organisation had not put a timeline on when this should end.