1. Animal Cruelty, Exploitation & Abuse
Horses bred for racing have a specific purpose – to win and be profitable. This creates a conflicting interest with the horse’s welfare. Some quick facts:
- On average, one horse is killed on Australian racetracks every 2.5 days from racing related injuries – and these are just the deaths we learn of. Plenty more happen in training and trials, or when injured horses are taken from the track to be later killed behind the scenes
- Over 10,000 horses vanish from the industry each year, most ending up in knackeries or slaughterhouses – known by the industry as ‘wastage’.
- Tongue ties, bits, spurs and whips are standard racing implements, causing horses to experience fear, pain and distress
- The majority of racehorses suffer bleeding in the lungs (EIPH), stomach ulcers and inflammatory airway disease
- Whilst in training, horses are kept confined to stalls for approximately 22 hours a day
There is so much wrong with horse racing that we have dedicated a whole website to it: horsearcingkills.com
2. Gambling Addiction
The culture surrounding the Melbourne Cup aids in normalising gambling for Victorians, and Australians at large. The Spring Racing Carnival, and others like it around the country are a way for racing organisations to promote gambling and attract new punters.
‘1 in 5 Victorians who gamble may be experiencing harm from gambling – they would fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground 5.5 times.’ – Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation
Studies by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation show that 2.8% of people experienced harm from someone else’s gambling in a 12-month period.
The study classified gambling harm into seven broad types:
- relationship difficulties
- health problems
- emotional or psychological distress
- financial problems
- issues with work or study
- cultural problems
- criminal activity.
While having a bit of a punt on the races and gambling in responsible ways is not going to cause the harm created from gambling addiction most of the time, the level of promotion of gambling services during the Melbourne Cup Carnival and increasing throughout the entire year, contributes to gambling being normalised in the community. This is reckless and irresponsible.
Unfortunately, our governments choose to support horse racing because they are also addicted to the tax dollars that are returned to them that prop up their budgets. What they fail to consider is both the financial cost and personal cost to the lives of millions of Australians that would be better off if they never saw a horse race.
3. Alcohol, assault and accidents
According to the Vic Health report Drinking cultures and social occasions: Alcohol harms in the context of major sporting events there is a significant rise in acute alcohol intoxication, assault, and motor vehicle accidents on Melbourne Cup Day. This is especially noted in men and young people. Police have also recorded that family incidents of assault ‘were significantly elevated on Melbourne Cup.’
Celebrations on Melbourne Cup Day put a strain on our public health system. Ambulance attendances, emergency department presentations and hospital admissions due to intoxication and assault rise in the days leading up to Melbourne Cup and on the day itself.
More information on these statistics can be found here
4. It brings out the worst in us
A vista of empty bottles and rubbish strewn across the manicured lawn of Flemington. Some people passed out, others stumbling home, shoes in hand, stopping to urinate in public somewhere. This is the image we have all come to associate with the Melbourne Cup.
Gone are the days where the races were the place to be seen. You could once get dressed up to the nines – nothing wrong with that – and potentially mix with celebrities, rock stars, models and influencers, who had all been paid large sums of money to attend. It was a stroke of marketing genius.
This attracted larger crowds, however, the people who did attend were mostly not there for the races. They were there to drink and party and were unlikely to attend another race until the next Melbourne Cup rolled around.
The images of drunk people lying amongst piles of rubbish with hungry seagulls, has become the annual paparazzi shot taken at the Melbourne Cup. It’s the best they can do as more celebrities begin to realise Cup Day is not good for their image and stop attending.