HARNESS Racing Victoria (HRV) will start post-race endoscopic horse examinations at Bendigo Harness Racing Club and Tabcorp Park Melton from next month.
This initiative will start at Bendigo on February 8, and be trialled for 12 months at these two venues.
The program, the only one of its kind in Australian harness racing, will allow veterinarians acting upon the request of stewards to conduct thorough and timely post-race endoscopic examinations of horses that perform below expectations to identify any abnormalities and the need for further treatment.
HRV senior veterinarian Dr Julia Aspinall said the examinations would allow vets to check horses’ airways and provide immediate feedback to owners and trainers on course while their horses were cooling down.
“This service will assist the trainer and owner in identifying potential medical conditions which may be treated as early as possible to enhance horse health and welfare and therefore reduce costs to owners,” Dr Aspinall said.
Trainers and owners also have the option, subject to the demands of the on-course veterinarians at Bendigo and Melton, to request endoscopic examinations for their horses.
Official endoscopic examinations requested by the stewards will take precedence over requests from trainers for elective post-race scoping.
A charge of $100 will be made for this service and digital images can be provided on request.
Official endoscopic examinations requested by the stewards are free of charge.
The examinations’ launch in Bendigo is an acknowledgement of the work of the club’s veterinarian Dr Kath McIntosh, who proposed post-race endoscopic examinations and then helped develop the concept with HRV general manager-integrity Brent Fisher.
Mr Fisher said stewards would be provided with full details of those endoscopic examinations that were conducted by the veterinarians and these would be included in the stewards’ reports.
Notwithstanding Harness Racing Australia rules that apply to a horse’s nostrils, there will be no action taken on voluntary post–race scoping results unless a substantial trachea problem is evident that may require clearance by the stable veterinarian.