Williams defends Aidan O’Brien
Melbourne Cup-winning owner Nick Williams has leapt to the defence of legendary Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien over what he terms as ‘dreadful’ reports concerning the Melbourne Cup death last spring of his galloper Anthony Van Dyck.
Williams told Racing.com on Wednesday that he thought it unfair that some reports linked recent Melbourne Cup deaths to how O’Brien trains his horses.
“I think it’s a cheap grab at fake news – that’s what it is,” he said.
“No one could be more upset with the events of last year than Aidan. He lost an Epsom Derby winner.
“This race couldn’t be worth enough money for them to take any risk. He was worth tens and tens of millions of dollars as a stallion that horse. It was a disaster for Aidan and the Coolmore operation.
“They have had a terrible time and some of the reporting I have seen about that has been, quite frankly mischievous, if I was being kind.
“No one cares for their horses more than the Coolmore operation and to read some of the stories in the paper today, I think it is very unfair on all involved to be having headlines that the horse was lame.”
The reports linked a nerve block given to Anthony Van Dyck a month before the Melbourne Cup as being a major part of his injury sustained in the race and Williams, who won the race again last year with Twilight Payment, said such reports were disingenuous.
“The horse had a nerve block four weeks before (the Melbourne Cup) and there would not have been a horse running in the Melbourne Cup last year that hadn’t had a nerve block at some point,” he said.
“It is a routine diagnostic tool. It was pretty clearly explained today in the press conference that the nerve block had absolutely nothing to do with the ankle injury that Anthony Van Dyck sustained.
“I think it was very disingenuous of those that reported it and tried to make it look otherwise today.
“I think its dreadful and I think it’s clearly not right. I think it’s a cheap grab at fake news. That’s what it is.
“People love in this country to try and chop down a tall poppy and there is no taller poppy in the racing industry than Aidan or the Coolmore operation and it is s pity these people writing these stories don’t have a bit better understanding of what that group puts in and how much they care for their horses.
“I haven’t spoken to them (O’Briens) since those articles appeared but quite frankly, as an Australian and someone who is very proud of the Melbourne Cup and the Spring Carnival, I feel somewhat embarrassed about reading it because I know what they do on the inside.
“We are very proud Melburnians and we like to show hospitality to the world and isn’t it wonderful that since 1993 when Dermot Weld won this race, it has become one of the greatest races in the world.
“When you have people making ill-informed comments like they have today, it probably doesn’t do us any good on the world stage.”
WATCH: The full RV/VRC press conference