'Crisis point': Call for independent inquiry into Melbourne Cup tragedy

Chris Young
·4-min read
Racehorse Anthony Van Dyck is circled in the moment he is injured during the Melbourne Cup.
Racehorse Anthony Van Dyck was euthanised after breaking its leg during the Melbourne Cup earlier this week, leading to calls for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the decision. Picture: Racing.com

A Victorian MP has called for an independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of racehorse Anthony Van Dyck, who was euthanised shortly after sustaining an injury in the Melbourne Cup.

Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick has called for an investigation into the racehorse’s death, the seventh death at the Cup in eight years.

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Anthony Van Dyck was one of the pre-race favourites, but fell well behind the pack at the final turn, rearing before jockey Hugh Bowman stopped it.

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?”

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Meddick went on to say he would be demanding an explanation from Victorian racing minister Martin Pakula when state parliament resumes.

His call for an inquiry was supported by retired racing vet Peter Kerkenezov, who said Anthony Va Dyck’s injuries were consistent with ‘extreme pain and suffering’ and that under normal circumstances, the colt would have been euthanised at the track.

Kerkenezov said he was concerned that the horse had been put through further unneccesary agony by being loaded into the ambulance when it was ‘unfit’ to do so.

Anthony Van Dyck was a Derby winner in England before his ill-fated trip to compete in the Melbourne Cup. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Anthony Van Dyck was a Derby winner in England before his ill-fated trip to compete in the Melbourne Cup. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

“It is apparent Anthony Van Dyck suffered a race induced catastrophic skeletal injury associated with extreme pain and suffering,” he said.

“The usual humane response would have been to euthanise the stallion, there and then, on the track, without inflicting any further pain transporting him to a new location.

“It is alleged this was not done despite the stallion being ‘unfit to load’.

“It is claimed Anthony Van Dyck was loaded and transported.

“The ethical nature of this decision needs investigating as a possible violation of animal welfare.”

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