Pre-race Veterinary Inspections

Equine welfare matters to all Victorians and the social licence to race a horse centres on a shared responsibility to ensure that the welfare of all racehorses is protected through contemporary practices and rules. Racing injuries are a significant safety, welfare and public relations issue for racing, and it is the responsibility of authorities to take all reasonable measures to reduce the incidence of such injuries.  Preventing horses affected by pre-existing conditions that may increase the risk of injury during racing from participating in a race is one means of attempting to improve horse and rider safety.

This Notice confirms:

  • The Direction to all Trainers to disclose pre-existing conditions or poor quality of movement.
  • That all horses running in the Blue Diamond, All-Star Mile, Showdown, Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup must undergo an off-course pre-race veterinary inspection.
  • The horses that will be required to undergo on-course pre-race veterinary inspections.
  • What constitutes an Official Inspection.

Direction to Disclose Pre-existing Conditions or Poor Quality of Movement

The Stewards require and direct Trainers to inform the Racing Victoria (RV) Veterinary Service Department of any horses that have an unusual gait, poor quality of movement, or chronic low grade injury, or any other physical condition that may attract the attention of an RV Veterinarian examining the horse.

In addition, the Stewards require and direct Trainers to inform the Stewards of any training setbacks a horse may have recently suffered.  This is to ensure that opportunity is provided to consult with the Trainer and/or the attending private Veterinarians and if necessary, to perform a preliminary assessment of the horse and or request additional diagnostic tests.

Off-course Pre-race Veterinary Inspections

As a condition of entry for the Blue Diamond, All-Star Mile, Showdown, Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate, and Melbourne Cup all horses accepted for these races will be required to undergo official veterinary inspections for suitability to race. 

These veterinary inspections will be performed by RV Veterinarians prior to race day (typically Thursday and Friday prior to the respective race).

A representative of RV will contact the Trainer in the week prior to the race to arrange a time for the Official Inspection.

On-course Pre-race Veterinary Inspections

All horses fitting the criteria below will be required to undergo an on-course Official Inspection for suitability to race:

  • horses aged twelve years old on each occasion they are presented to race; 
  • all horses unraced for twelve or more months;
  • horses which have raced since final acceptances were taken;
  • horses aged five years and above having their first race start;
  • international horses having their first start in Australia;
  • all horses accepted in a flat race of 3000m or greater;
  • all horses accepted for a Jumps race; and
  • horses identified for inspection by the Stewards.

The Official Inspection will be performed by a RV Veterinarian prior to the time of racing. To avoid the inspection taking place in close proximity to race time Trainers may opt to arrive early and present their horses for inspection on arrival.

All boots and bandages must be removed prior to the inspection.

The Official Inspection

The Official Inspection will involve:

  • A trot-up in hand for 15 to 20 metres on a safe, firm, level surface nominated by the examining veterinarian. Where possible, asphalt or an equivalent surface will be used. A firm, grass surface may be used at the discretion of the examiner who will make the appropriate adjustments to the assessment of the movement of the horse.
  • A brief clinical examination which may include palpation, flexion of joints and an assessment of hoof sensitivity.

Please note that a suitability to race inspection is not solely a lameness examination. A horse that appears to be trotting soundly may be assessed to be unsuitable to race if a significant musculoskeletal condition is detected during the examination. For example, an inflamed superficial flexor tendon or suspensory ligament or heat, effusion or significant pain on flexion of a joint.

If you have any queries or wish to consult further, please contact Dr Grace Forbes at Racing Victoria on 9258 4644 or 0406 750 390.