Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Sport of Kings or Chumps?

 I hate horse racing. I can see the appeal which is born of the glamour and glitz of the Sport of Kings and I admit the spectacle is appealing. But I hate horse racing.

 I didn't always feel this way. I can get as excited about the Melbourne Cup as the next person and I don't decry the event's place in the national psyche or culture. But I hate horse racing.

 I suppose being at a distance from the sport makes it acceptable for most people and there are some folk I know who would smite me for suggesting racing is a dirty industry which should be far more regulated than it is. But I hate horse racing.

 Victorian Racing Club officials must be ruing the public relations nightmare the biggest day on their calendar caused yesterday. Two horses dying after the feature event is not a good look. In fact it's disgraceful.

 Of course the undercarriage of a horse can be delicate and the death of Araldo after putting his leg through a fence and breaking a bone can perhaps be put down as an accident but the death of Admire Rakti, collapsing in his stall and dying of acute heart failure moments after the race has finished is a travesty. No animal should die in such a manner, least of all a supremely fit and expensive stallion, favoured to triumph in the race, two weeks after winning the Caulfield Cup.

 Horse racing is a dirty business. Animals are flogged in training and drug use is as much a part of the game as it is in any other sport. Horses can't expose the cheats. They have no choice in what happens to them. A successful racehorse is admired and set for life after it is finished on the track but please don't ask what happens to those who don't make the grade.

 I would prefer to see horse racing die a natural death but it won't happen anytime soon. Wealthy interests the world over love the sport and influential and powerful people will always ensure their will prevails. Whilst money and fame and riches await the successful practitioners of the horse sport it will forever be part of the sporting landscape of Australia and beyond. And those who ignore it for 364 days of the year but only come out on Melbourne Cup Day to place a bet and skimp off work for a couple of hours will neither know or care of the suffering of the animals who are forced to partake in the circus.

 Racing will go on. Fans will cheer. Money will be made and lost and nameless horses will continue to die horrid deaths just to please our fancy. So, take a moment today to remember two fine animals who lost their lives yesterday, Admire Rakti and Araldo. May their journey be sweet and their eternities be spent in the green and rolling fields of heaven.

 I hate horse racing.

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