Horse racing icon Gai Waterhouse has trashed suggestions Racing Australia should take over the running of the Melbourne Cup, labelling them ‘absurd’.
The Sydney Morning Herald published a report outlining a letter sent by the NSW Trainer’s Association to Racing Australia, in which the group argues the national racing body should take over the running of the Melbourne Spring Carnival.
The NSWTA is arguing the death of Melbourne Cup runner Anthony Van Dyck, the seventh horse to die as a result of injuries sustained during the Cup in eight years, is damaging the reputation of the race, to the point where it is becoming an ‘existential threat’ to the racing industry.
“The NSWTA is very concerned that if this matter is left to the Victoria Racing Club and Racing Victoria to address, then the trend will continue and do further harm to our industry,” the NSWTA letter read.
“We believe the catastrophic breakdowns and deaths of so many horses during the Melbourne Spring Carnival, and in our showcase race the Melbourne Cup, have become an existential threat to horse racing across Australia.”
Several leading Sydney trainers, notably Chris Waller, have sought to distance themselves from the letter once it was made public.
Waterhouse, one of the leading Melbourne-based trainers, went on the offensive.
She took to Twitter to say she and Waller were united in condemning the letter’s suggestion.
“Both @cwallerracing & I are shocked at (the) absurd piece suggesting we would support Racing Australia taking over the Melbourne Cup,” Waterhouse wrote.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. The VRC has made the Cup Australia‘s best racing event by so far.
“Outrageous to suggest otherwise.”
Fury after latest Melbourne Cup death
The latest furore comes after Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick called for an investigation into the racehorse’s death.
The four-year-old colt was diagnosed with a broken leg at the track and loaded into a veterinary ambulance, where it was euthanised a short time later.
Meddick has called for an investigation into that process, questioning whether the horse was euthanised away from the track in order to spare the racing industry’s blushes as deaths on track have become a regular occurrence at the Cup.
“The deaths of racehorses in the Melbourne Cup has reached a crisis point,” Meddick said.
“If a horse has been removed from the track, adding further to their distress and suffering, purely to avoid the cameras and publicity, heads need to roll.
“A racehorse is killed every three days on Australian racetracks, most commonly from catastrophic limb injuries, just like Anthony Van Dyck.
“On usual race days when the whole country isn’t watching, the horse would almost always be killed on the track. Why was this not the case on Tuesday?”
Meddick went on to say he would be demanding an explanation from Victorian racing minister Martin Pakula when state parliament resumes.
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