'Incredibly tough': Trainer breaks silence on Melbourne Cup tragedy

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Aidan O'Brien, pictured here before the Melbourne Cup.
Aidan O'Brien has spoken out after the death of Anthony Van Dyck in the Melbourne Cup. Image: Getty

Aidan O’Brien has spoken out about the tragic death of Anthony Van Dyck in the Melbourne Cup.

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

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As Twilight Payment swept to an all-the-way victory for O’Brien's son Joseph, Anthony Van Dyck was retired from the race with a fractured fetlock.

The injury was so severe that veterinarians were unable to save last year’s English Derby winner.

“He was a very kind, sound, lovely-natured horse - incredibly tough and genuine,” O’Brien said of Anthony Van Dyck.

“It was very sad to see that happen, it was just very unfortunate. He was a good Derby winner who we’ll have fond memories of.”

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.

However the cause of the fatal injury might not be known for weeks.

“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.

Calls for investigation after Melbourne Cup tragedy

Animal welfare groups are calling for an investigation after Anthony Van Dyck became the seventh horse in the last eight years to die on Melbourne Cup day.

“As far as I know, all the horses who have died are international. So it does really beg the question, what's going on there?” RSPCA Victoria chief executive Liz Walker told ABC radio on Wednesday.

“There were some changes made following a fatality in 2018 to track and to compliance and check-in with regard to international horses coming in.

“It doesn’t look like that’s worked. There's more to be done.”

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.

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

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.

Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick said the Melbourne Cup was “beginning to feel like Groundhog Day.”

“Almost every year, a horse breaks down and is killed,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

“While the scenes today were confronting, nobody should be surprised.

“A racehorse dies every three days on Australian racetracks. The only difference is on Melbourne Cup Day, the whole country is watching.”

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.

with AAP

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