The highly successful Williams training operation has freshly questioned the suitability of the Werribee quarantine centre for overseas raiders and warned that Melbourne Cup hero Twilight Payment and stablemate Master Of Reality could be their last two European-trained runners brought to Australia for the nation’s greatest race.
Nick Williams, son of seven-time Cup-winning owner Lloyd Williams, says that the scintigraphy tests Racing Victoria require overseas horses to pass to prove their soundness are, in their current form, just too disruptive to a horse’s training regime and can cause too much distress for the animals involved.
Nuclear scintigraphy is a diagnostic tool sometimes simply referred to as “bone scanning”.
Nick Williams was also scathing about the quarantine operation, adding to the criticism of the Werribee quarantine centre.
Williams said the quarantine location was the biggest issue that needs to be addressed if Racing Victoria wants to cut down on the number of deaths and serious injuries, particularly of foreign gallopers, which have tarnished the Melbourne Cup in recent years.
Racing Victoria has introduced stringent new processes to try and ensure horses are fit and healthy before travelling to Australia, but Williams says the initiative makes it very difficult for Europeans to compete.
Speaking to Racing and Sport Network on Saturday morning after Twilight Payment had proved his well-being overnight by winning in Ireland, Williams said the intrusive examinations and the strain placed on horses was too much.
Both Twilight Payment and Master Of Reality have undergone scintigraphy tests so they are clear to travel later this year, but Williams pulled no punches when asked if they would be the last European horses he would put through the ordeal.
“Yep, 100 per cent. Yep,” he told RSN. “I presented Racing Victoria with the facts about scintigraphy … I was told those procedures were wrong … there’s not much point in talking to RV, they don’t want to listen.”