Forget about the pub test – the Melbourne Cup didn’t pass the wife test.
After covering all elements of the Cup last year, including the fabulous story of Jye McNeil winning the big race for the first time, I rang my wife to see what she thought about the race.
“It was so sad, another horse has died, awful, I can’t watch it anymore,” she said.
It was a good call and a line in the sand moment for me, especially considering my better half loves a bet and part owns a racehorse. She is no shrinking violet.
I suspect there were a good many people all around the world feeling exactly the same way.
Enough was enough. These horses dying in the great race could no longer be viewed as individual incidents, or written off as acts of God.
Change was desperately needed and it couldn’t come soon enough.
Racing Victoria, to their credit, commissioned a broad-sweeping review which was in no way a snatch-and-grab effort or designed to pander to any particular elements of society.
Look at the names of some of the Melbourne Cup review team.
Winx’s trainer Chris Waller.
Head of Godolphin in Australia Vin Cox.
What these two don’t know about racing probably isn’t worth knowing.
Anthony Van Dyck broke down in last year’s Melbourne Cup. Picture: Getty Images for the VRC)Source:Getty Images
And they weren’t just figureheads of the review, those in the know say both were heavily involved in one of the most thorough and comprehensive pieces of work ever done in racing in Australia.
Things had been done wrong in the past, there was no doubt that the ill-fated raider Anthony Van Dyck should have been scanned last year.
But while this was certainly the time for reviewing missteps, it wasn’t the time for finger pointing.
It was about a fresh start, giving the Cup a chance to reinvent itself as it was on the nose with just about everyone.
But, most importantly, this was about horse welfare and leaving no stone unturned to try to stop horses dying in the race in the future.
Some of the recommendations of the review are controversial, particularly the requirement to have more stringent medical testing on the other side of the world before horses leave their home countries.
Owners and trainers rightfully point out this is a nightmare logistically and some, such as Prince Of Arran’s trainer Charlie Fellowes, claim it will make it virtually impossible to come Down Under for the Cup in future.
That’s a great shame.
Chris Waller had a big say in the Melbourne Cup reviews. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
As while many weren’t exactly in love with the Melbourne Cup being swarmed with internationals, there is little doubt having an overseas presence added to the colour and the stories of the Cup and made it a greater worldwide spectacle.
However, doing nothing or burying the head in the sand could not be the answer.
Racing Victoria simply had to act as otherwise, if the deaths continued, the Melbourne Cup itself may have been dead and buried within a decade.
This doesn’t guarantee there won’t be problems in the Cup going forward but at least now if there are issues, racing authorities can say they have done their absolute darnedest to do their best on a horse welfare front.
The recommendations aren’t perfect and there will be a whole lot of angst going forward.
It will be intriguing to see how it all plays out as the Cup gets closer this year.
The quality of the Cup will be reduced.
But Melbourne Cup connections and everyone else don’t have much choice – they must like it or lump it.
Racing had to do something otherwise the famous race which Archer first won in 1861 may not have been around for much longer.
Once again a horse has suffered serious injury and been euthanised as the Melbourne Cup is marred by the loss of Anthony Van Dyck….
Once again a horse has suffered serious injury and been euthanised as the Melbourne Cup is marred by the loss of Anthony Van Dyck.
Originally published asComment: Cup will die if deaths don’t stop
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