Melbourne Cup Inquiry
On 4 November 2008, one of the most nail-biting finishes in the history of the Melbourne Cup took place at Flemington Racecourse, in Melbourne, Australia. Spectators had to wait approximately thirty seconds while stewards examined the photo finish to determine who the winner was. When the results finally came back, it was determined that Viewed, trained by Bart Cummings was first, with Bauer in second, C’est La Guerre in third and Master O’Reilly in forth position. Now, almost a month later, the shocking news that Bauer his position stripped has rocked the horse racing industry and torn the joy of their second place finish away from his owners.
Bauer is trained by Luca Cumani, and was sent to Australia ahead of the race under the care of Cumani’s daughter, Francesca. While in quarantine Racing Victoria Ltd appointed certain veterinarians to take care of the international competitors, and unfortunately this is where the Bauer saga takes a turn for the worst. As the veterinarians were recommended by Racing Victoria Ltd, Cumani assumed that they would be aware of the rules of the racing board and would treat the horses within the limits of the regulations. While swabs have confirmed that the inquiry is not drug related and that Bauer raced drug free, the stewards are looking into a therapeutic treatment given to Bauer, which was recommended by the veterinarian and approved by Cumani, understanding that it would not be suggested by the vet if it was illegal.
Although no-one has gone into detail in regards to the type of treatment received, speculation has arisen that it could be electro shockwave treatment. This form of physiotherapy is used to treat pain, increase the blood flow and also assists in faster healing and a shortened recovery period. According to the rules, horses that have been treated with electro shockwave treatment are not allowed to take part in any horse racing events within seven days of the treatment.
Simon O’Donnell, part owner of Bauer expressed his disbelief and frustration at the enquiry, especially after Racing Victoria Ltd had appointed the veterinarians and are now doing the inquiry. He spoke to the media saying: “The last thing you want to be ever involved in, in horse racing, let alone a race like the Melbourne Cup is an investigation on whether you’re stripped of prize money or whether you keep it. It just takes any enjoyment that was there two or three weeks ago. It’s just gone.” None of the stewards involved in the inquiry were available to shed light on the inquiry.