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VRC welcomes Racing Victoria’s new initiatives ahead of the 2021 Spring Racing Carnival

Enhanced safety standards to set new global benchmark

The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) welcomes changes to be implemented by Racing Victoria (RV) following the completion of their international injury review.

Today RV, together with the VRC, announced 41 new measures aimed at increasing the safety of Victoria’s Spring Racing Carnival races, and in particular Australia’s flagship race the Melbourne Cup.

In supporting the new measures, VRC Chairman Neil Wilson emphasised how important it is that we continue to lift the benchmark when it comes to protecting our horses, our jockeys, our sport and Australia’s most iconic race.

“These initiatives will set a new global standard for horse and jockey safety with the introduction of some of the world’s most stringent pre-travel and pre-race veterinary screening processes,” Mr Wilson said.

“While the focus is on international horses, there are also new checks that will be introduced for locally-trained horses competing in the Melbourne Cup.”

The VRC has been closely involved throughout RV’s review process, which included oversight from VRC Director and Godolphin Australia Managing Director Vin Cox, leading trainer Chris Waller and internationally renowned regulatory veterinarian Dr David Sykes. 

In December 2020, the VRC presented a number of recommendations to RV specifically aimed at improving the safety of the Melbourne Cup. These recommendations were in addition to input RV sought from 66 local and international stakeholders including veterinarians, trainers, jockeys, owners, track managers and racing clubs.

The changes announced today will apply to all international horses competing in this year’s Spring Racing Carnival and all horses – local and international – competing in this year’s Melbourne Cup.

“This review is an important milestone in the history of the Melbourne Cup, the Spring Racing Carnival, and indeed for the broader national and global racing community,” Mr Wilson said. 

“Like many other sports, we uphold a commitment to provide the safest environment for our athletes and in our case our horses and jockeys.”

While the primary focus will always be on the welfare of the horses and jockeys competing in the Melbourne Cup, enhancing safety outcomes has wide-ranging benefits for the future of the sport, the impact it has on society and its financial contribution to the economy. 

The Melbourne Cup is Australia’s original major event. It is one of the nation’s most significant social and cultural traditions that has been bringing Australia to a standstill as the ‘race that stops the nation’ for more than 160 years as more than half the adult population across the country tune in to the great race.

Globally, the reach has grown to 750 million people across 160 countries, with the running of the 2020 Melbourne Cup having a record global audience and importantly continuing to promote our sport, Melbourne, and Australia.

In 2019, the last pre-COVID-19 year, the Melbourne Cup Carnival generated almost $435 million in gross economic benefit to Victoria.  In addition to world class racing and support for the racing industry, Cup Week also benefits the tourism, fashion, retail and hospitality sectors by creating thousands of jobs, injecting millions of dollars into the economy through domestic and international tourism.

“We have said consistently that we want to see Australia’s greatest race become its safest,” Mr Wilson said.

“While today’s announcement will see new requirements for this year’s Cup, we are committed to a continuous review and improvement approach.

“Advances in information, technology, science and research will be considered by the industry on an ongoing basis to ensure we are taking advantage of every opportunity to further improve the safety of our sport.

“Everyone at the VRC feels a deep responsibility to provide for the safety of every participant competing on our racecourse. We want every horse and every jockey to come home safely,” Mr Wilson said.

You can read the Racing Victoria release via this link.