The Cup of Life or Death

After years of mixed feelings, I’m calling it quits on the Melbourne Cup…
Actually, for that matter, all forms of horse and animal racing or performance. For the second year in a row, a Cup racer has died. This year, favourite thoroughbred Admire Rakti finished last after a poor start and collapsed in its stall after the race.
Another Cup running horse, Araldo, was spooked after the race, kicked a rail and broke its leg. This beautiful creature has now been euthanised.
Two deaths from one race…

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A sad tragedy, many will say. A terrible part of a sport we love. Unfortunately, rarity had nothing to do with it. Even when racing for a fictional TV show, horses are killed and injured. A HBO drama about the racing world, “Luck”, was cancelled in 2012 after three horses died during filming.
Horses die all the time during and after races but it takes the death of a Cup favourite for anyone to notice the awkward, grisly reality of the ‘sport’. While we guzzle alcohol, prance about in dresses and suits, waving our money about, animals are whipped into a frenzy and channelled down a track for our entertainment.
Remember when bear baiting and bull fighting were considered legitimate entertainment? We grew out of those as a society, well most of us did, but we’re still ok with racing.
Why?
The dead are unseen. We don’t see the wailing animal in its death throes. We see dollar signs and glitter. We reject the bull fighting because the death is too close to our faces. We don’t like the smell of it. We don’t like the feeling of it on our Spring Season fashions.
If it’s kept behind doors and stable walls, we find it more palatable. An easier pill to swallow, perhaps…

That said I don’t think the jockeys, owners or trainers purposefully mistreat the animals. In most cases they are genuinely loved, but in a business built on money, these beasts are bearing the entire burden.
Sadly, all too often, they crumple under the weight.

I’ll be finding an animal welfare organisation to donate my winnings from today, then I’ll wash my hands of this ugly business.

Vale Admire Rakti and Araldo

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