The busted digital board — albeit untimely a week out from the Cup — is understood to be a world-first malfunction of the part responsible for generating the scanner images.
A cargo flight carrying the American component is due to touch down on Wednesday, with technicians on standby to repair the $1.27m standing CT scanner at U-Vet Equine Centre, Werribee.
The standing scanner was introduced in 2019 to help RV and the University of Melbourne understand and further help reduce limb injuries in horses.
News Corp Australia understands the scanner was fully maintained and serviced ahead of the spring carnival period but the malfunction, “a truly unique occurrence” could not be foreseen.
An RV spokesman confirmed the scanner malfunction would form part of the annual review into the entire spring carnival, including the stringent veterinary processes.
The unfortunate situation generally has triggered talks within industry groups about the need for a failsafe — should current screening rules stay in place — in the event of another malfunction, given what is at stake and the impact on connections.
As announced on Monday, the 15 Melbourne Cup fourth acceptors who had not undergone a standing CT prior to the machine breaking down will be subjected to high quality X-rays.
The X-rays must be reviewed and cleared by three international imaging specialists for Cup horses to press on towards Flemington next Tuesday.
RV mandated a stringent veterinary screening regimen after Anthony Van Dyck last year became the sixth Cup runner in seven years to sustain a catastrophic injury.
The fact the four internationals this year passed a series of scans – including the contentious scintigraphy – prior to arriving in Australia gives RV some clarity and peace of mind.
The standing CT scanner was used voluntarily by connections previously to check or help diagnose potential issues, but this year all Cup horses must be scanned before Thursday’s deadline.
Should any of the high quality X-rays taken the past 48 hours highlight an area of concern the horses may be required to undergo a standing CT scan on Thursday, subject to availability.
This would also apply to any Cup-nominated horses who contest Wednesday’s Bendigo Cup and have not yet had a scan.
Horses face additional scrutiny beyond the scans, including a new Cup eve veterinary inspection.
What is the standing CT scanner?
A large, fixed structure located at the University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Equine Centre in Werribee. When introduced in 2019 it was the first of its kind in Australia. A second was introduced at the Randwick Equine Centre in Sydney this year.
Why was the CT scanner brought in? What improvements does it provide on?
The standing CT scanner was introduced to understand and further help reduce limb injuries in horses. Apart from early identification of issues, before they become serious or fatal, a major benefit of the standing CT scanner is it can be used on horses with limited sedation. Traditional CT machines require a horse to undergo a general anaesthetic, meaning it’s not suitable for the precautionary screening of all Cup horses.
Traditional/previous testing methods
Up until 2020 horses only underwent scanning before the Cup if they were injured or vets needed further information to diagnose a possible injury. In 2021 that has changed to precautionary scanning of all Cup horses, regardless of their condition.
All Cup horses are traditionally subjected to a pre-race veterinary examination – a visual/manipulative assessment where they are trotted up before a panel of vets – on the Thursday or Friday before the race. This year, an additional one has been scheduled for Cup eve.
Which horses have/haven’t been scanned?
19 of the 35 fourth acceptors for the Melbourne Cup have been presented for a standing CT scan since October 16, in line with the RV veterinary requirements for the race. The four internationals – Spanish Mission, Twilight Payment, Away He Goes and Sir Lucan – have not been scanned in Australia but did clear all diagnostics since their last race start and prior to departure.
Has the machine already ruled out other horses this year?
Yes, Cup nominees Young Werther and Harpo Marx have been withdrawn after their scans highlighted areas of concerns. All CT scans and X-rays are reviewed by a panel of three veterinary specialists (one each in USA, UK and Australia) and the results presented to the RV veterinary team to make a decision on each horse’s suitability to race.
Are horses at a heightened risk of injury without this scan?
No, the risk of injury is the same as with any physical/athletic activity.
How much does the machine cost?
RV together with the University of Melbourne and the State Government invested $1.27 million
What is being done if a horse can’t undergo a standing CT scan?
All acceptors yet to undergo a standing CT scan are required to undergo a comprehensive high-quality X-rays of their distal limbs on October 26-27. Should the X-rays taken at U-Vet identify any area of concern, the horse may be required to undertake an MRI or standing CT scan (subject to availability) on or before October 28.
If the replacement part arrives in time, can a horse get scanned by Thursday night?
All Cup horses will undergo a standing CT scan or high-quality X-rays by Thursday night. Thursday is the cut-off for horses who will be mildly sedated for their standing CT scan or X-rays (if required) in order to produce a clear drug test for the sedative on Cup Day.
Story published on Fox Sports Australia
This story originally appeared on Punters.com.au