Racing Victoria (RV) has today announced the three veterinary specialists who will review all diagnostic imaging of horses seeking to compete in the 2021 Victorian Spring Racing Carnival.
The panel of internationally renowned equine surgeons and diagnostic imaging specialists will provide RV with their expert opinion on the level of risk of international and local horses competing in this year’s Spring Racing Carnival.
RV’s Veterinary Services team and Stewards will then consider the panellists’ opinions to determine the suitability of horses to compete in the Melbourne Cup and/or travel from overseas via the Werribee International Horse Centre (WIHC).
The compilation of the panel is one of the 41 recommendations outlined in the industry’s International Injury Review released in April 2021 to help set a new global safety benchmark for horses competing in the Spring Racing Carnival.
The selection of the panel included consultation with industry experts and participants and was led by RV’s General Manager – Veterinary Services, Dr Grace Forbes, and internationally renowned regulatory veterinarian Dr David Sykes.
Following endorsement from the RV Board, the three imaging experts appointed are:
- Dr Bruce Bladon: Hospital Director at Donnington Grove Veterinary Group in Newbury (Berkshire, England)
- Dr Mathieu Spriet: Professor of Diagnostic Imaging at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine (California, USA)
- Professor Chris Whitton: Professor of Equine Medicine and Surgery at University of Melbourne (Werribee, Australia)
To view the three experts’ full qualifications and backgrounds, please click here.
The experts’ opinions, along with all other available information, including a horse’s history, medication records and previous injuries, will help determine whether selected horses are suitable to compete in the Spring Racing Carnival under the industry’s new safety benchmarks.
The equine veterinary specialists will be tasked with reviewing pre-travel and post-arrival scans of all international horses, as well as scans before each start by an international horse in Victoria, of which only one is allowed prior to the Melbourne Cup.
The three experts will also be required to review the diagnostic imaging from all horses, international and local, competing in the Melbourne Cup, as these horses will be required to undergo a mandatory standing CT scan in the lead-up to the Flemington feature.
International horses seeking to compete in this year’s Spring Racing Carnival can now undergo a pre-travel veterinary inspection if planning to travel on a September shipment. Scanning is permitted from Monday, 16 August for horses seeking to travel on a second shipment in October.
The first shipment is currently scheduled to arrive in Melbourne from the UK on 25 September allowing horses to compete in the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate. A second shipment is tentatively scheduled to arrive in Melbourne on 12 October for any horses wishing to target the Melbourne Cup only.
Nominations for this year’s Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate close on Tuesday, 3 August to allow sufficient time for international horses to complete their necessary veterinary requirements.
Quotes attributable to RV General Manager Veterinary Services, Dr Grace Forbes:
“The process of seeking independent advice on scans or a horse’s history isn’t new in Victoria, but through the International Injury Review released in April, we have now expanded and formalised this process with an international panel of imaging experts.
“The three highly credentialed equine veterinary specialists will provide independent assessments to RV on the results of scans for relevant horses seeking to compete in this year’s Spring Racing Carnival.
“Their role is to identify the level of risk for a future injury, not to rule a horse in or out of a race. It’s then RV’s job to consider that expert opinion and make a decision as to the suitability of a horse to compete in the Spring Racing Carnival.
“The introduction of the imaging panel and increased screening of horses aims to significantly reduce the risk of injuries in horses competing in the Spring Racing Carnival and the Melbourne Cup.”