Racing for their lives.
The disgraceful footage that aired on ABC’s 7.30 program last month was an eye-opener for many Australians who trust that the Australian racehorse industry can satisfactorily track where their horses end up after racing. After losing a false-sense of security, many Australians were horrified as the footage exposed registered racehorses at abattoirs. The same racehorses that had won their owner’s hundreds of thousands of dollars, became victims of cruelty and unbelievable abuse before their premature slaughter. The numbers simply don’t add up.
This is the reality of the horse racing industry.
Now, in lead up to the Melbourne Cup, animal welfare will be compromised for opportunities to dress up, celebrate and gamble on horse racing. But what’s the cost?
The event undoubtedly known for its gambling successes profited a record amount of $444.5 million dollars in the 2017-18 financial year, with $19.1 million in prize money – only 10% promised to a new equine wellbeing fund.
And the stats get worse each year…
Last year was a shocking example of what can go wrong. The 2018 Melbourne Cup saw 6 jockeys penalised for breaching acceptable practices. Jockey Hugh Bowman, known for riding champion mare Winx, was cited on three separate charges in the race – an incident of careless riding at the 500m, excessive whip use prior to the final 100m and the fact that he weighed in more than half a kilogram over his prescribed weight of 55kg aboard runner-up Marmelo.
Three-time Melbourne Cup winner Kerrine McEvoy was fined $3000 after using the whip nine times – four more than what is permitted under the rules – on Cross Counter in the final 400m of the race. Jockey’s Jim Crowley and Christine Puls were also suspended for careless riding at the 2018 event. Frustratingly, both Bowman and Crowley return in 2019.
Running for their lives
In 2018, racehorse The CliffsofMoher was euthanised after he suffered a fractured right shoulder. In 2017, Regal Monarch was euthanised after a fall in Race 4. Red Cadeaux, a successful and popular racing horse was injured during racing at the 2015 Melbourne Cup and was subsequently euthanised two weeks later. In 2014, two horses died after racing in the Cup. Admire Rakti died of heart failure after the race and Araldo broke his leg after being spooked by a flag in the crowd. The injury saw him euthanised. Horrific scenes during the 2013 event saw Verema break her lead mid-race and euthanised whilst still on the track. Six horses have died in as many years as a result of racing at the Melbourne Cup.
The culture of horse racing is embedded in Australian history, but sadly the event still plagues doubt of the welfare and safety of these beautiful, gentle creatures. Many racehorses suffer from catastrophic limb injuries, cardiac arrests or massive bleeds causing them to collapse and die. These deaths were completely avoidable, but of no consequence to an industry which has no effective retirement plan for its horses and many are destined for the slaughterhouse after they are of no use.
The Melbourne Cup continues to encourage excessive gambling while using animals for entertainment and financial gain. Animal Welfare League NSW applauds the increasing amount of individuals who question the event’s motives. With animal welfare clearly in doubt, it’s no surprise that the choice to boycott the Cup is becoming more popular, and more venues choosing not to show the race.
If like us, you hope to see an end to these shocking statistics and demand to see change to the industry’s regulation which sees animal welfare forefront and a retirement plan which ensures all racehorses have a second chance after racing, then be sure to let Racing Australia know we need better for our horses.