It’s been a rather testing week for Melbourne Cup organisers Racing Victoria.
Prize money increases in Sydney, allied with the continued tough and intrusive veterinary inspections ordered by RV have meant that overseas runners are increasingly ditching Melbourne.
At the same time as Daqiansweet Junior’s connections say they’ll aim for the Sydney Cup, international trainer William Haggas has also said he’s off to their autumn carnival.
There has been a belligerent response by the RV vet, while they have copped criticism too for relaxing the Melbourne Cup dress code.
Vet Refuses to Apologise
Racing Victoria’s general manager of veterinary services is Dr Grace Forbes. She has become a controversial figure in Britain and Ireland of late. She is the person who instigated the heightened, intrusive inspection and scanning procedures for overseas runners at the Melbourne Cup.
When Deauville Legend went off favourite for the 2022 Cup, he was one of only two international Melbourne Cup horses.
Joseph O’Brien won the Cup twice and trained State Of Rest to win the 2021 Cox Plate. He chose not to send runners to Melbourne last spring having publicly criticised RV’s approach.
Arguably the world’s top trainer, Charlie Appleby, has not sent runners to Flemington’s big meeting since stewards ordered the removal of Ispolini in 2019. He too doesn’t show signs of coming back yet. Now, Joseph O’Brien and Addeybb trainer William Haggas are sending runners to Sydney’s autumn carnival.
Right Intentions, Wrong Call?
For her part, Dr Forbes has never backed down. She has spoken out to say that RV took steps to reduce the risk of injuries. She also stated that they “don’t apologise” for that as it was about safeguarding horses.
The problem with this is whether they’ve got the call on international only runners right. They appear to travel to Sydney with no problems. Is this coincidence? Is it to do with quarantine facilities or onboarding in Melbourne?
Perhaps we won’t find out.
What we do know is that European breeders, owners, trainers, grooms and vets have a wealth of experience. They send horses to Hong Kong, Japan, Dubai, USA and elsewhere with little problems. It’s worth thinking about.
Racing Victoria Criticised for Relaxing Dress Code
RV boss Andrew Jones has faced a backlash over his plans to drop the strict dress code normally employed during the Melbourne Cup Carnival. Jones thinks horse racing has to modernise, ridding itself of the old dress policy.
Currently, the strict dress code precludes people from entering certain areas when not appropriately dressed. Racegoers cannot enter the members’ areas unless they wear and suit and tie, or top-end clothing for ladies.
Jones reckons that relaxing dress policies is a simple way to attract a younger audience. Figures have shown that those below the age of 25 are heading to other sports betting attractions.
The backlash has started however. Many racing enthusiasts have taken to social media to voice their frustrations at racing perhaps lowering its standards.
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