“There are people using this as just another attempt to shut down racing, a sport which employees 75,000 people, a large number of those in regional Australia, and something that millions of Australians enjoy all year around.
“There were 17 runners in the first cup of 1861, three of them fell and one died. These things happen at every racetrack in the country … that is a tragic consequence but they are not reasons to shut the entire industry down.”
Mr McCormack played a critical role in the continuation of racing during the coronavirus outbreak earlier this year, working with industry leaders and national cabinet to ensure the sport could continue safely.
Horses have died in all but one cup since 2013, with Rostropovich surviving after breaking down with an injured pelvis in last year’s race.
The death of The Cliffsofmoher in the 2018 Melbourne Cup triggered a Racing Victoria review into the rate of serious injuries among international horses travelling to Melbourne to compete in the spring carnival.
Veteran Liberal MP Kevin Andrews, who was a race caller before entering politics, said like all fans of the sport he regretted any injury to horses.
“That is why the Victorian Racing Club’s review of recent injuries is important,” he said.
“I hope it will lead to improved practices and the prevention of injuries. In addition, new technology, such as CT scans should assist the early diagnosis of potential problems.”
The Greens have backed calls from animal rights groups and for an independent investigation and necropsy report into Anthony Van Dyck’s death.
NSW Racing chief executive Peter V’Landys has also urged Racing Victoria put more efforts into preventing horses from dying in the Melbourne Cup.
Anti-racing campaigner, NSW Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi, said Tuesday’s race was “horrific” and there were serious questions to answer about the latest death.
“There must be no industry cover-up. Horse racing kills. No horse is safe at the Melbourne Cup.
“Ultimately we need to see an end to the Melbourne Cup and the brutality of commercial horse racing,” she said.
Victorian Racing Minister Martin Pakula said this week Anthony Van Dyck’s death was a “tragic outcome” and said he supported industry investigations into it.
He said the fact such incidents did not often occur with local horses or with foreign raiders in other races suggested it was important to “look closely at the circumstances surrounding international runners in the Melbourne Cup”.
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Rob Harris is the National Affairs Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra