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Racing Victoria Poised for Vote on Relaxed Safety Measures

Racing Victoria Poised for Vote on Relaxed Safety Measures

The board of Racing Victoria is about to be asked whether it can relax what are currently a very tough set of safety rules and measures for the Melbourne Cup.

While the increased measures meant that the 2021 Cup was run without fatalities, some international trainers would not take part which in turn reduced the appeal of the race worldwide.

Proposal for Scan to be ‘Secondary’ Tool

The contentious scintigraphy scan, known as the “nuclear” scan, was introduced before last year’s race. It was said to make the Cup safer after a number of deaths in the past.

However, the Racing Victoria board will now consider proposals for the scan to no longer be mandatory. They will meet and discuss the subject later in the month.

New proposals would see the full-body scan used only as a secondary diagnostic tool. It would be used for international runners who perhaps are at risk of major injury. Last year, the “nuclear” scan was mandatory for every travelling horse.

The idea is that now, the scan would only be used for those failing a vet examination overseas. Horses would also be scanned if they present themselves lame, or if a previous MRI or CT scan shows any concerns.

International Trainers Put Off by Nuclear Scan

Last year’s Cup was a success. However, despite some international participation, numbers were down from overseas with the scan blamed.

Superpowers such as Aidan O’Brien from Ireland and Charlie Appleby from England were ultimately deterred. O’Brien decided against bringing horses to Melbourne because of the scan. Appleby had initially nominated the Cup for Royal Ascot winner Kemari, only for Godolphin to decide they would not bring any of their European-based horses to Victoria.

As well as Godolphin, another top owner spoke up on the issue. Nick Williams announced as far back as August that he would not take part this year. As long as what he described as an “invasive” scan was on the cards, his horses would not travel.

Aidan O’Brien’s son and Melbourne Cup winner Joseph O’Brien did travel. His yard won the Cox Plate with State Of Rest, however he too described the process as a “nightmare”. It remains to be seen what his views are now should the scan remain as part of the protocol.

Why Trainers Hate the Scan

When international runners go through the scintigraphy scan, they have to be sedated. This happens every time and means they spend three days in an equine hospital.

For a trainer, not only is the scan invasive but it also keeps their horses out of work for three days. Hardly ideal prep for the Cup.

Common sense may just prevail here. If horses are at risk, they must be scanned under the new proposals. Though if they are at risk, they perhaps shouldn’t travel anyway.

Read more news about the Melbourne Cup.

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