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How many horses have died in Melbourne Cup history?

How many horses have died in Melbourne Cup history?

The annual event has a tragic history.

This year’s Melbourne Cup will once again see tens of thousands of attendees turning a blind eye towards the event's history of animal harm to enjoy a day of fascinators, alcoholism and good-old-fashioned Aussie gambling.

The number of attendees has decreased over the years, with 81,408 people attending the Cup and 276,186 to the carnival overall in 2019, compared to the 368,929 overall attendees just a decade prior.

A staggering total of seven horses have died at the Cup in less than a decade.

Last year’s Melbourne Cup was one of just three since 2013 to avoid yet another tragic fatality.

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Most recently, in 2019, favourite for the race, Anthony Van Dyck, a five-year-old Irish stallion, fractured his fetlock (a joint in the lower leg) and was taken away to be euthanised.

And this is not an uncommon occurrence.

In 2018, Cliffsofmoher broke his shoulder and was euthanised on the track.

In 2017, Regal Monarch fell mid-race and died that same evening.

This is a pattern that has reared its ugly head consistently, having occurred in 2013, 2014 and 2015 with little repercussions.

Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick said: "No animal deserves to die or be injured for gambling profits…Racing isn’t the sport of kings – it is a pastime of animal abuse. No amount of industry spin, glitz and glamour or celebrities can hide the truth.”

PETA also released a statement saying: "The reality of the abusive racing industry is that horses are made to run to the detriment of their health. These 500-kilogram animals — supported on ankles as small as those of humans — are pushed past their limits, forced to race at breakneck speeds while being whipped.”

Since Van Dyck’s death in 2019, Racing Victoria has finally accepted 41 of 44 recommendations following a review into the Melbourne Cup, including a recommendation that all horses, including local runners, must have a CT scan of their lower legs before running in the Cup.

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Racing Victoria will also implement enhanced facilities at the horse quarantine facility in Werribee and decrease the number of international competitors allowed into the country, bringing the cap to 24, down from the uncapped peak of 42 in 2018.

Jamie Stier of Racing Victoria said: “If the consequence of that is that we have less horses travelling, our view is, so be it.

"Our primary concern is doing our utmost to mitigate any risks that we're able to identify and we believe these measures will be able to do that."

The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses is calling for these measures to be implemented by all racing groups, not just the Melbourne Cup, with numbers from the Coalition stating that 139 horses died during the last racing year on Australian racetracks.

"One horse is killed on Australian race tracks every three days," campaign director Elio Celotto said.

"The measures Racing Victoria put in place to address the ongoing deaths at the Melbourne Cup, must be put in place for all horses, on all days, at all racetracks."

Mr Celotto said without across-the-board implementation of these much-needed measures, it was just 'further evidence that it is the industry's image that is of sole concern here'.

Featured Image Credit: Ray Warren Creative / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: News, Australia