O'Brien interview sparks call for review into nuclear scan for Melbourne raiders
The Moonee Valley Racing Club, which will stage the Cox Plate this month, is to request an urgent review into the mandatory nuclear scan for international runners once the spring carnival is over.
Aidan O'Brien spoke of his frustrations on the subject in an interview in Sunday's Racing Post in which he said Racing Victoria "must be under huge pressure from the 'antis' or whoever to demand that sort of thing".
Alastair Dwyer, general manager of racing at Moonee Valley, said his club would ask Racing Victoria to review its position on the scintigraphy – a form of bone scan – which has impacted the Cox Plate, with just one European representative now likely.
The fatal injury suffered by O'Brien's Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck in the Melbourne Cup last year prompted a wide-ranging report that has led to major changes which has in turn deterred European runners from travelling for this year's spring carnival.
Each European representative must undergo nuclear scintigraphy, but O’Brien felt that was excessive and chose not to send any runners to Melbourne this year.
Dwyer told The Age newspaper: "It's clearly the main sticking point for the likes of Aidan O'Brien, who provides us with the majority of our runners and is the trainer we target the most, along with [his son] Joseph.
"The [Victoria Racing Club] and RV [Racing Victoria] in their wisdom want to keep it for the Melbourne Cup – we've got no issue there –but it's had a significant impact on the Cox Plate and once these Covid issues dissipate, it will be the first one on our list to have a conversation with RV about."
Another major issue O'Brien spoke about in Sunday's interview was the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board's reluctance to adopt a more uncompromising approach with riders over interference in races.
When asked whether the authorities would consider changes to the existing rules in the wake of O'Brien's comments, the IHRB's communications manager Niall Cronin said: "We continually review all penalty structures and an internal discussion reviewing careless, improper and dangerous riding began this summer and is continuing."
O'Brien felt Shane Foley should have been banned for a month for dangerous riding on No Speak Alexander in the Matron Stakes and said Ryan Moore should have received a week's ban for letting St Mark's Basilica drift in the Irish Champion Stakes.
O'Brien said: "Ryan should have got a week for careless and Shane should have got a month for dangerous – it's not rocket science. It's worse in Ireland than anywhere else and it's letting Irish racing down. We had the whole world watching Leopardstown and it puts people off backing horses or following racing.
"And I'm not just talking about the big days, I'm talking about every day. You have to be consistent."
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