Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck might still be alive had precautionary scans been done on his fetlocks before last year’s Melbourne Cup tragedy at Flemington.
Anthony Van Dyck’s death was the catalyst for a far-reaching review into the spate of horses dying during or after the Melbourne Cup in recent years.
Public outcry reached a peak last year when Anthony Van Dyck was euthanised after suffering what Racing Victoria vets described as “catastrophic fractures to his left front fetlock”.
Anthony Van Dyck’s post-mortem revealed the horse had a pre-existing issue before taking the track for the Melbourne Cup.
University of Melbourne pathologists reported an increase in the horse’s bone density and “an area of lysis (bone loss) associated with the fracture of the cannon bone.”
“These changes are likely consistent with a pre-existing stress fracture or other pre-existing pathology,” the report read.
Had the bone changes been found, Racing Victoria vets almost certainly would have ordered Anthony Van Dyck’s scratching from the Melbourne Cup.
“We have a track record through showing that if issues are identified on veterinary scans that are of concern to our veterinary team regarding an increased risk of more significant injury, they will rule the horse out or advise the stewards to do so,” RV’s integrity boss Jamie Stier said.
Vets reported Aidan O’Brien-trained stallion showed no signs of lameness after his mighty second to Verry Elleegant in the Caulfield Cup on October 20.
The Caulfield Cup was run on a Soft 6 track before Anthony Van Dyck broke down on significantly firmer Good 3 ground in the Melbourne Cup.
A final point of RV’s report noted that despite the horse appearing fit to race in the Melbourne Cup, a precautionary scan might have found otherwise.
“Precautionary imaging, such as an MRI or CT (scan) of Anthony Van Dyck’s fetlocks after the Caulfield Cup and prior to the Melbourne Cup, may have identified the potential for a future serious racing injury based on the findings of the post-mortem,” the report noted.
The report noted the minor issue reported with Anthony Van Dyck that required a “nerve block” to help produce a diagnosis had no bearing on the son of Galileo’s fatal injuries.
Racing Victoria has introduced rules for the 2021 Melbourne Cup compelling international horses to undergo several bone scans before they are allowed to travel to Melbourne and compete in races.
The rules include compulsory scans for international horses after each Australian start while overseas horses are also limited to one lead-up run before the Melbourne Cup.