Update on safety enhancements for the 2021 Victorian Spring Racing Carnival

18 October 2021 Written by VRC Staff

In April this year Racing Victoria (RV), together with the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) announced 41 new measures aimed at increasing the safety for horses competing in the Victoria Spring Racing Carnival, and in particular Australia’s flagship race the Melbourne Cup.

As the Carnival quickly climbs into top gear, it is timely to review the progress that has been made following that announcement.

Since the creation of RV’s implementation group, supported by the VRC, all of the new measures have either been actioned or are currently occurring during the Carnival.

These new safety measures range from improvements to the training and trot-up facilities at Werribee International Horse Centre (WIHC), to the appointment of a panel of three independent veterinary imagining specialists to review all diagnostic images in consultation with RV’s Veterinary Services team, to the implementation of the required pre-travel veterinary protocols.

The first shipment of international horses, Gold Trip and State of Rest, have been in Melbourne for a few weeks now, having passed all the required pre-travel screening processes.

Following their required 14 day quarantine period at the WIHC, both horses have now undergone their mandatory CT scan at the University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Equine Centre in Werribee.

The second shipment of international horses arrived on 9 October and are currently completing their quarantine period at WIHC, having also passed the required pre-travel veterinary screening processes to travel to Australia.

Last year’s Melbourne Cup winner, Twilight Payment, is included in that second group of horses, alongside Spanish Mission, Away He Goes and Sir Lucan.

Along with the European raiders, all Australasian entrants for this year’s Melbourne Cup are required to undergo a mandatory CT scan before taking their place in ‘the race that stops a nation’.

These scans must be undertaken between 16 and 28 October at either the U-Vet Equine Centre in Werribee or the Randwick Equine Centre in Sydney.

RV General Manager, Veterinary Services, Dr Grace Forbes, said, “Of the international injury review groups 41 recommendations endorsed by the RV Board, they have all either been actioned or will operationally occur during the Carnival – such as mandatory CT scans for all Melbourne Cup runners.

“As expected, the consequence of both the new safety measures and the continuing impacts of the COVID pandemic on international travel is that we have seen a reduction in the number of international entries this year.

“But we are buoyed by the support of a number of trainers and owners who have been willing to complete the additional veterinary requirements, highlighting how well regarded the Victorian Spring Racing Carnival is globally, and their desire to compete in races such as the Melbourne Cup.

“Between the European horses, and those throughout Australia and New Zealand, we expect some wonderful storylines to emerge from this year’s Cups and Cox Plate.

“As occurs every Spring Racing Carnival, we will conduct an extensive review, consider the new safety measures implemented, source feedback from stakeholders and continue to understand what new technology and research can aid the safety of both our equine and human athletes, not just during the spring, but all year round.”

VRC Executive General Manager of Racing Leigh Jordon said the club was pleased to see the new measures embraced by the wider racing fraternity.

“These initiatives are setting a new global standard for horse and jockey safety” - Leigh Jordon

“The Melbourne Cup was watched by more than half of the Australian adult population last year, and it is vitally important that they can watch with admiration and awe of the feats on the track, with confidence the horses are in sound condition.

“While the changes put in place will have an impact on this year’s Cup with respect to the number of international entrants, we are committed to a continuous review and improvement approach. Advances in information technology, science and research will continue to inform our industry’s approach.”