Racing Thoroughbreds Inherently Dangerous Caution Necessary

The stir created when head of veterinary services for Racing Victoria, Grace Forbes, scratched one of Darren Weir’s horses from a BM 78 race at Flemington Saturday past has yet to die down.

If anything, it has escalated, with passionate arguments from both sides making the situation even more ambiguous than it was already.

Those of us who like and admire horses would prefer that any error in judgement be made on the side of caution.

Weir and his advocates, however, have a valid stance in saying that a “one size fits all” approach to a racer’s fitness lacks the ability to allow for a horse such as Limestone, with an unusual gait, to measure up to the typical standard.

Other cases are more clear-cut. After Chautauqua refused to trial for the fourth consecutive time, he has been sent to the paddock for a spell, as his issues in the barrier present a clear and present danger to all the other horses and people around him.

The controversy has attracted the notice of the Australian Trainers Association. The chief of the outfit, Andrew Nicholl, will meet with Forbes in hopes of clearing the subjectivity often present in vet decisions, but we should note that not only Forbes, but also two other vets agreed with the decision to hold Limestone out.

Nicholl told reporters, “We’re meeting tomorrow to clear the air…97 times out of 100 these things are straightforward and we certainly do not want to go to war with anyone but we do believe we can improve the process.“

It is those three times out of a hundred that present the obstacle. The consequences of a bad decision can be life threatening.

Yet, Performer is being permitted to run in the 20-horse field for the Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes at Rosehill this weekend less than a month after he ejected Hugh Bowman in the Todman Stakes.

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