Melbourne Cup veterinary protocols are unlikely to change

Image: Bruno Cannatelli

Racing Victoria CEO Andrew Jones strongly supports Racing Victoria Melbourne Cup’s strict veterinary protocols, stating that in his view significant changes to the process are unlikely to occur in the immediate future.

“We do a review every year, which we’re doing at the moment,” Jones said, speaking on After The Last. “We’re very happy to have had two safe (Melbourne Cup) races in a row (since adopting new checking protocols) and we don’t think the medical standards that helped produce it could materially change… especially the scans of horses’ feet to identify risks.”

“Early feedback is that we can improve communication and some elements of the process, but I don’t see us relaxing medical standards, nor, to be honest, is anyone asking for that.”

While the stricter protocols of the last couple of years apply to all stables, it has come with a bit of displeasure with some sets of connections questioning certain veterinary results, but they are all on the same page when it comes to the principle of doing everything what can be done to ensure the welfare of every thoroughbred involved in the process.

For overseas coaches and their potential international raiders, the protocols put a question mark over their participation, particularly in terms of the numbers they could bring to Australia.

Even with the best care being taken in advance, there is no guarantee that you will pass medical tests after traveling to another country. Given that this process is on top of a trip…from Europe for example…which is already a formidable undertaking, you can see why you might take advantage of the enthusiasm of some overseas trainers for a “down” trip.

“I have some sympathy for that point of view,” Jones admitted. “It’s very expensive to put out a horse and they make a big track … but on the other hand, they’re competing for $8 million in a two-mile race. that money does not exist in Europe.

“So there is a risk-reward equation. Are there other ways we can approach this problem? Maybe…we’re open to feedback, but in terms of relaxing medical protocols, I don’t see that happening…and for very good reason.”

“You want the best quality racing you can get. The Melbourne Cup, oddly enough, is the race that is watched by the most people who know the least about racing, so the presence, or otherwise, of an international horse rated X or Y is not something that worries the average person in a Melbourne Cup office party or graduation.

“Often they don’t know who the horses are … if they’re overseas or local, so in a way it’s the least relevant to the Melbourne Cup and what’s most relevant is the horses finishing safely.

“But obviously we always want quality racing in Victoria. We have fantastic racing in Victoria and to the extent we can reduce the friction for overseas connections we will, but without relaxing safety standards.”

Jones also reflected on his first spring carnival as CEO, saying he thought it was fantastic.

“Nobody races better than Victoria in the spring,” was Jones’ summary.

Whether this was fair and honest, personal observation…or a slight dig at an old enemy is up for interpretation.

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