Safety Standard Remain a Focus of Victoria's Spring Carnival

Bronwen Healy

Racing Victoria (RV) announced that the core safety standards for horses competing in the Spring Racing Carnival will remain in place in 2023 with a focus on further enhancing administrative processes for their connections.

Introduced in 2021, the world leading safety standards are part of Victorian racing's effort to minimise the risk of injuries, particularly among international horses travelling to compete in Victoria and for all horses contesting the Melbourne Cup.

The safety standards are reviewed regularly and in determining this year's veterinary protocols, RV conducted a review of their application in the 2022 Spring Racing Carnival – the second successive without a serious incident.

RV's working group, which includes integrity, veterinary, equine welfare and racing experts, also considered feedback from a broad range of stakeholders including Australian and international private veterinarians, regulatory veterinarians, trainers, jockeys, owners, primary service providers, and Victoria's racing clubs.

Upon recommendation of the working group, the RV Board endorsed updates to the following veterinary protocols for international horses seeking to travel via the Werribee International Horse Centre (WIHC) and compete in Victoria in 2023 and beyond:

a) Radiographs (X-Rays) will no longer be mandatory but may be directed to be undertaken at the discretion of RV. X-Rays are now primarily suggested as a screening tool for connections before progressing to advanced diagnostic imaging. A pre-travel CT or MRI scan remains mandatory for each international horse

b) The pre-travel inspection and imaging window will now open Aug. 1 for all international horses and close one week prior to a horse entering pre-export quarantine (dates to be determined based on horse shipments)

In addition to the endorsed changes to the 2023 veterinary protocols, the RV Board, on advice from the working group, also determined:

  • A requirement for improved operational communication methods and processes to enhance the experience of connections completing the veterinary protocols. This will include the appointment of a case manager for international contenders
  • A renewed focus on attracting Japanese horses to Melbourne for future editions of the Spring Racing Carnival, by improving the understanding of the veterinary protocols by Japanese trainers and owners
  • All international horses, including those travelling on a one-way ticket, will remain in WIHC until Champions S. Day Nov. 11 or until after their last Spring Racing Carnival start if earlier

The Victoria Racing Club also announced that nominations for the 2023 Melbourne Cup, scheduled for Nov. 7, will close in early September for all horses. The nomination dates for the Cox Plate and Caulfield Cup are expected to remain in early August when finalised.

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