Leading English vet, Pete Ramzan, has absolutely slammed the Racing Victoria stewards who scratched MARMELO from the Melbourne Cup, last month.
You may recall, last year’s runner up was sensationally withdrawn a few days prior to this year’s race, and it created a firestorm, with Marmelo’s connections, particularly his trainer Hughie Morrison, 100% adamant he was fit enough to run.
Well, Ramzan, an avid social media player and an openly boisterous man when it comes to equine-related matters that effect racing, has said this week on British TV, that Racing Victoria was wrong.
“The CT scan they used in Melbourne is exciting technology but it isn’t ready to be used the way it was on Marmello,” he said.
“It could be viewed that this horse had an injury and there is a slightly lofty academic spat between experts in England and experts in Melbourne about whether the horse should have run.
“But I cannot say more firmly, that that’s not the case here. Marmelo had findings, changes found from the CT scan – and this technology has been coming on and we are all looking forward to it very much – because it shows in great architectural detail the fetlock of a thoroughbred.
“But what is important is the activity of those findings that you see architecturally. And currently the best way to do that, the gold standard way is with an MRI machine. We have great depth of knowledge using it that way. We examine these fetlocks with an MRI, if not on a daily basis than on a weekly basis so we know what it is what when using an MRI machine.
“With hindsight it’s quite apparent that the changes they found of Marmelo’s fetlock with the CT machine, through the CT scan, well, had you scanned the entire field you would have found that a majority of the field would have had a similar pattern of changes to what they found in Marmelo that resulted in his scratching.
“CT alone is exciting technology but it’s not ready to be used solely as a diagnostic tool.”
Ramzan then used the latest machines being installed at Santa Anita racetrack to further his condemnation of the vet regulator’s usage of CT scanning.
“In Melbourne they should have incorporated the data from the CT scan into what they found with an MRI. Integrate the two like they now have been forced to do in America.
“Because the appraisal of Marmelo subsequent to his scratching tells us that he was at no greater risk for a fracture than any other horse in that field. And indeed the advice was to continue training him.
“And I think I’m right in saying the horse galloper perfectly a few days later in front of Racing Victoria vets. If they wanted to use the CT scan as a screening tool, that was fine, but they should have used an MRI scan further on to analyse the findings.
“It’s always the safe decision to scratch a horse because you would never be proven wrong, but if you went out on a limb and ran them, well….. however you wouldn’t have been going out on a limb with Marmelo.”
Ramzan went on to add, “there are no easy answers at present on how to risk assess a thoroughbred but what needs to happen is there needs to be an international consensus on these tricky cases.
“In this day and age of imaging it wouldn’t be too hard to send scans all of the world to get consensus. That’s not beyond the whit of man…or woman.”
Now, while Aussie might flare up at his assertions, Ramzan isn’t without credibility. In fact he is viewed as a superstar of sorts in the equine vet business over in the UK. Last year he received an Order of Fellowship for example.
Held in the lofty and rather prestigious surroundings of The Royal Institution in London, the Royal College Of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) welcomed the third cohort of Fellows to be awarded under the new RCVS Fellowship initiative and provided a forum for Fellows to meet and exchange their views and ideas.
Fellowship is the highest level of membership of the RCVS for members who have demonstrated significant original contribution in their subject.
Ramzan, who is a longstanding and highly respected member of the Rossdale Vet Surgery in Newmarket since 2005 was also awarded Fellowship for Meritorious Contributions to Clinical Practice.
His clinical research interest in the early detection and improved management of racehorse orthopaedic injuries is famous over there, and his work has been published extensively in peer-reviewed journals.
In 2014 CRC Press published his book The Racehorse: A Veterinary Manual – the first comprehensive textbook wholly dedicated to veterinary management of the racehorse.
Soooo, was Marmelo denied a shot at Melbourne Cup glory?