'No freak accident': Brutal truth about Melbourne Cup horse death

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·5-min read
Anthony Van Dyck, pictured here pulling up lame in the Melbourne Cup.
Anthony Van Dyck pulled up lame in the Melbourne Cup and was euthanised. Image: Racing.com/Getty

Animal rights groups are calling for an investigation after the seventh death of a horse in eight years on Melbourne Cup day.

Anthony Van Dyck became the latest international star to go amiss in the Melbourne Cup when the Aidan O'Brien-trained stayer faltered late in the race on Tuesday.

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The 2019 English Derby winner was rated one of the best horses to be sent to Australia for a spring campaign, but was injured during the final stages of the Cup.

Racing Victoria said the horse had to be “humanely euthanised after sustaining a fractured fetlock”.

The five-year-old stallion is the seventh Melbourne Cup death in the last eight years, prompting calls for an investigation from the RSPCA.

“The RSPCA believes there are inherent animal welfare issues involved with horseracing,” the animal welfare group said.

“Whenever there is an adverse outcome for an animal, our expectation is that the industry will do a comprehensive review to identify ways to improve in an effort to avoid unnecessary injury or trauma in the future.

“Racing presents numerous risks for horses and this very unfortunate incident illustrates the need for the industry to work toward better welfare for animals used in sport.”

Cliffsofmoher (2018), Regal Monarch (2016), Red Cadeaux (2015), Admire Rakti (2014), Araldo (2014) and Verema (2013) were the other horses who died on Cup day in recent years.

“The death of Anthony Van Dyck is no ‘freak accident’,” Animals Australia tweeted.

“A horse dies at least once every three days in Australian racing. The risk is known, but deemed to be a risk worth taking in the pursuit of gambling profits.”

Animal rights group PETA called for an “immediate investigation” into the death, and an end to the racing industry.

“How many more deaths will it take before we call time on this disgraceful demonstration of national senselessness?” it asked.

Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi said it was “time to recognise that horse racing is completely incompatible with animal welfare”.

“This is the brutal reality of horse racing. Anthony Van Dyck's death is a tragic but hardly unforeseeable outcome,” she said.

“Horse racing is deadly and completely inhumane. We need to shut this industry down.

Hugh Bowman, pictured here riding Anthony Van Dyck in the Melbourne Cup.
Hugh Bowman rides Anthony Van Dyck during the start of the Melbourne Cup. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images for the VRC)

“Killing horses for entertainment is barbaric. There is no place for commercial horse racing in our society.

“Horse racing and gambling is a toxic mix of death and misery for animals. There are no winners.”

Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick expressed similar disdain.

“I am sickened by the death of a young stallion, Anthony Van Dyck, after he ‘broke down’ in the Melbourne Cup this afternoon,” the Victorian politician said.

The Victoria Racing Club thanked veterinary staff for their prompt care of the horse at Flemington.

“The Club remains totally committed to the welfare of all equine athletes and the ongoing focus on their wellbeing and will continue to work with the industry to understand the cause of this incident,” the club said in a statement.

Cause of fatal injury won’t be known for weeks

Racing Victoria says the cause of Anthony Van Dyck's fatal injury isn't expected to be known for weeks.

Racing Victoria’s Jamie Steir said a fatality report that included the results of an autopsy would be prepared as per the regulatory body's welfare protocols.

“The report will include the findings of a post-mortem which will now be conducted by the University of Melbourne Veterinary Clinic and we expect it will be several weeks before we have a completed report for consideration,” Steir said.

On the strength of his placing in last month’s Caulfield Cup, Anthony Van Dyck was one of the favourites at Flemington.

The Cup was a triumph for Ireland despite the shadow of Anthony Van Dyck's death.

In beating Anthony Van Dyck's stablemate Tiger Moth, Twilight Payment became the fourth Irish-trained horse to win Australia's greatest race - joining Vintage Crop (1993), Media Puzzle (2002) and Rekindling (2017).

with AAP

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