VRC boss calls for rethink on where to house international stayers after Cup fatality

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Victoria Racing Club chairman Amanda Elliott says the industry should look at establishing its own "horse heaven" for the internationals in the rural north of Melbourne.

Elliott and her board met on Thursday to discuss the death of Anthony Van Dyck in Tuesday's Melbourne Cup, whose fatality added to The Cliffsofmoher (2018), Red Cadeaux (2015) and Verema (2013) in the club's marquee race.

The outgoing chairman said the industry should reconsider Werribee's role in housing the internationals who arrive in Melbourne for the spring racing carnival.

Melbourne Cup fancy Anthony Van Dyck was euthanised after breaking down during the race this month. Credit:Robert Cianflone

"I think Werribee clearly has to have some real thought put behind it," she said.

"I think the synthetic track at Werribee needs a look at not because the surface isn't first class, because it is, but it's pretty tight.

"A lot of those international stayers, and indeed our own really talented stayers, are now being trained differently.

"With our most famous race with the world's eyes upon it, we need to look at that and understand training a stayer is a very different process. You've got to be more patient, it's about miles in the legs and you can't expect horses that are trained differently to just lob here, whether they're Australian-trained or indeed internationally-trained, and do things differently."

Of course, there is a property available in rural north Melbourne for sale – Lloyd Williams' Macedon Lodge – and Elliott said the industry should rethink its set up for the internationals.

"The protocols around the horses that come, particularly the international horses, I think need to be really robust," she said.

"I'm a great believer in the establishment of our horse heaven, in that northern direction of Melbourne where horses can live in a rural environment and train in long straight lines, particularly the stayers. And I think some of the European trainers who bring their horses, maybe they should come a little bit earlier.

"The board and I caught up on Thursday to talk about this subject and about getting a much broader group of people involved to find the answer, and if we can't find the reason let's make it the safest possible environment we can make it."

Elliott said no stone would be left unturned in trying to reduce the fatality rate in the Cup.

"Of course it's a concern for us, it's an enormous concern," she said. "It's a concern if it happens at Stony Creek. Athletes sustain injuries.

"The Melbourne Cup has not got a great track record because it's a staying race over two miles and sometimes full of older horses."

Racing Victoria in a statement to The Age echoed Elliott's comments.

"In compiling the fatality report for Anthony Van Dyck all possible contributing factors will be considered. As we have consistently stated, no stone will be left unturned to consider why this fatality occurred and what learnings can be made from it to mitigate future risks," the statement read.

The Werribee Racing Club declined to comment.

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