This afternoon the nation will grind to a halt for a horse race. All except Victoria, they will have never started the daily grind this morning at all being the beneficiaries of a public holiday that is dedicated to gambling.
Ah yes we are a nation that loves our horses, whether they are being ridden by the Man From Snowy River, or a jockey in brightly colored silk. There is little doubt in our minds that the horses love a good run around a paddock, although whether they still enjoy it with a man on their back whipping them is another story.
The racing industry is big business indeed, providing many jobs, both legitimate and organized crime related.
The horse racing industry, which has now separated itself even further from the disgraced greyhound racing industry, is by its own calculations worth approximately $6.2 Billion a year. With that sort of revenue it’s no wonder we see expensive champagne being sprayed about like it’s coming from a burst fire hydrant in a heat wave. Member’s stands full of expensive dresses, ridiculous hats, fake tans, and bad facelifts. Sponsors tents filled with confused looking international celebrities with tattooed on smiles and jet lagged eyes.
Meanwhile the press will ask celebrities and wannabe’s the same questions they always do every year, “Who is your tip for the cup?” “Who designed your dress?” “Would you like the opportunity to promote your next movie/album/tv series/cookbook/blah blah blah?”
What you won’t hear them being asked is “Do you know what happened to the horses that didn’t make the cut?”
That’s because if they knew most of them wouldn’t show up. If they knew most of them would probably lose their champagne and canopy nibble lunch down the nearest loo.
It’s the same reason the pull out the green tarp to shield the view when a horse goes down on the track before they kill it. The industry doesn’t want us to know what goes on with the horses no longer able to turn a profit.
This “Sport of Kings” as they like to brand has a kill rate that rivals the bullfighting in Spain, yet due to the money involved we look the other way when at comes to the cruelty involved. At least the Spanish are more transparent. Kings for a day, fools for a lifetime is how I see it.
Horses that either never make it or no longer make the cut are deemed wastage. Below is a video of what happens to these poor ponies deemed wastage, and a warning some of the footage may disturb.
So what can be done to fix this?
Thankfully the answer is relatively simple, and given the wealth of the industry, quite cheap.
The cost to ensure these animals have a life after the track or indeed if they don’t make it is 1%
If the Sport Of Kings could find it within it’s heart to grant a Kings Pardon to the animals it makes its living off by paying a 1% levy that would ensure that they are homed, fed, and cared for. Surely that’s not too high a price to pay?
According to Horse Racing Australia’s official site when averaged out each Australian bets $8.50 on the Melbourne Cup. All the horse’s need from this is a measly eight and a half cents. Peanuts really….
If the Sport Of Kings was accurately nicknamed this would already be in place, but alas these Kings are not worthy of any crown.
We have one of the strongest racing industries in the world in Australia, we should be doing all we can to make it one of the most moral and one that benefits all to major players including the ones actually racing, the horses.
It is only through public awareness and pressure being brought to bear on the industry and government that this issue will finally be addressed.
Let’s hope we can spread the message fast, so that next Melbourne Cup we have something to truly celebrate.