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Racing Victoria has today provided an update on the progress of its International Injury Review which includes an overview of the key consideration areas being looked at to help minimise the occurrence of serious injuries among international horses.

At present, there are two pieces of work currently being undertaken by RVs Integrity and Veterinary Services teams. The first being the fatality report of Anthony Van Dyck and the second which is a broader review into injuries among international horses during the Spring Racing Carnival.

In compiling the fatality report for Anthony Van Dyck all possible contributing factors will be considered including the post-mortem report, the horse’s veterinary records, and his racing and training history. RV expects the fatality report to be completed early in the new year with any findings to be published thereafter.

RV is committed to having in place world-leading equine welfare practices to ensure that all horses, who are the centrepiece of our industry, are afforded the appropriate care both during and after racing.

In order to achieve these standards, the broader injury review will take an in-depth look at the injuries sustained by international horses who have been trained out of the Werribee International Horse Centre during the past decade and any recommendations from it are expected to be presented to the RV Board for their consideration  in the first quarter of 2021.

Along with RV staff, a range of technical and academic experts and industry participants including domestic and international veterinarians, domestic and international trainers, jockeys, horse transporters, owners, race clubs and racing officials are being consulted in order to capture their views and recommendations on the issue.

Victoria Racing Club (VRC) Director and Godolphin Australia Managing Director Vin Cox, champion trainer Chris Waller and internationally renowned regulatory veterinarian Dr David Sykes will be among the experts called upon to provide a fresh perspective and an independent viewpoint.

RV is also working closely with the VRC to ensure that Australia’s greatest race is also as safe as possible.

The review will consider, but won’t be limited to, why these injuries have occurred, how the risks can be identified and mitigated, veterinary and diagnostic requirements pre and post travel, training facilities both internationally and upon arrival in Melbourne, the track surface on race day, and the conditions of the Melbourne Cup.

RV Chief Executive, Giles Thompson, said: “As we have consistently stated, no stone will be left unturned to consider why the fatality of Anthony Van Dyck occurred with a comprehensive fatality report well underway.

“We are conscious that the Melbourne Cup is not the only race internationals run in and that is why we are looking at the wider international experience as part of the broader review so that we can reduce the rate of serious injuries among international horses in the future.

“We are committed to seeing the review completed as soon as is practicable and well in time for the 2021 Spring Racing Carnival, however more than simply collating information and opinions from experts in Australia and around the world, it is the working group’s analysis of available data that will be critical to develop a genuine understanding of the challenges to be overcome.

“Meaningful recommendations capable of implementation to ensure any changes made as a result are enduring and have a tangible impact on equine welfare outcomes for both international and local horses will require time and expertise.  I am confident we will have the best minds both in Australia and abroad to support our efforts.

“We are committed to gaining fresh perspectives and the input of various industry stakeholders for this review and we are thankful to Vin Cox, Chris Waller, Dr David Sykes and the VRC for their input throughout this process.

“Racing by its very nature carries with it inherent risks of injury to the participants, this review is about ensuring we are pinpointing any identifiable risk of injury to the horses, and which mitigation processes will most effectively deal with those risks.

“Our commitment to equine welfare is of the highest priority and both pieces of work will provide valuable insights, learnings and actions so that our horses can race under the highest of safety standards.”

The below provides further information regarding the external working group members:

  • Vin Cox – As well as his role as Managing Director of the Australian arm of Godolphin who are one of the largest international travellers of horses for racing in the world, Vin Cox is also a Director at the Victoria Racing Club and was previously the Managing Director at Magic Millions.
  • Chris Waller – Chris Waller is one of Australia’s leading trainers who has stables in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Chris is also a major purchaser and importer of European tried horses and a public advocate for equine welfare.
  • Dr David Sykes – David Sykes is a regulatory veterinarian with extensive experience in the United Arab Emirates and Great Britain. David previously held the position of Head Veterinary Officer for the Emirates Racing Authority (ERA) and on 1 January 2021 will retire as the Director of Equine Health and Welfare for the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).
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