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Anthony Van Dyck euthanised after breaking down during Melbourne Cup

Updated November 3, 2020 — 6.17pm

first published at 3.13pm

The Victoria Racing Club says it will work with the racing industry to understand the cause of Anthony Van Dyck's injury, which led to his death in Tuesday's Melbourne Cup.

The English Derby winner and Melbourne Cup topweight was euthanised after pulling out of the 3200-metre contest at the top of the straight, becoming the seventh to break down during the famous event since 2013.

The last horse to die in the Melbourne Cup was The Cliffsofmoher in 2018, another Coolmore-owned, Aidan O'Brien-trained stallion. His death triggered a Racing Victoria review into the rate of serious injuries among international horses travelling to Melbourne to compete in the spring carnival and led to the purchase of a CT scanner at the University of Melbourne's Werribee equine clinic.

A fatality report will now be prepared by the RV Integrity Services and the VRC says it will work with Racing Victoria to investigate the cause of Anthony Van Dyck's fatal injury.

"We would like to thank the track and veterinary staff for their prompt and humane care of the horse," the VRC said.

"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."

Anthony Van Dyck was ridden by star jockey Hugh Bowman, who on the eve of the race dismissed concerns about the massive weight the horse was carrying in the Cup.

But the public perception of the sport has been further tainted by yet another death in the race that stops the nation. "[The] Melbourne Cup is beginning to feel like Groundhog Day," Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick said.

"Almost every year, a horse breaks down and is killed.

"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.

"No animal deserves to die or be injured for gambling profits.

"That's why myself and thousands of others have said 'nup' to the Melbourne Cup today." The race has had a sad postscript in all but one year since 2013, with Rostropovich surviving after breaking down with an injured pelvis in last year's race.

However, Verema was euthanised in 2013 after breaking a leg before Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti died of cardiac arrest after finishing the Melbourne Cup with 58.5 kilograms on his back.

That same year, 2014, Araldo died when he broke his leg after being spooked by a spectator waving a flag. The next year perennial cup placegetter Red Cadeaux suffered a sesamoid fracture in his left front forelock and was euthanised two weeks after the race due to irreversible complications with his injury. After sensing a problem in Tuesday's race, Bowman immediately dismounted Anthony Van Dyck and a horse ambulance made its way onto the track to attend to the injured horse as its strapper ran up the straight to be with him.

Racing Victoria's head of integrity Jamie Stier said Anthony Van Dyck had to be humanely euthanised after sustaining a fractured fetlock during the running.

"The horse received immediate veterinary care, however, he was unable to be saved due to the nature of the injury sustained," Stier said.

"The fatality report gives consideration to the circumstances of the incident and any potential learnings to assist in the prevention of similar injuries in the future.

"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."

Bowman was not injured in the incident.


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