The Melbourne Cup may be marketed as a fun day out for punters, but there’s no dressing up the fact that it’s a death sentence for many horses. In the 2014 Cup, one horse sustained a catastrophic leg fracture and another dropped dead in his stall shortly after pulling up in the race.
Araldo reportedly took fright at a waving flag and broke his leg on the way back to the yard – as is often the case, he was later euthanised away from the public eye. And favourite Admire Rakti collapsed in front of shocked onlookers and died.
Last year, another horse broke a leg and was killed. But while these horses made headlines, countless others die on tracks all over the country every week with little attention paid to their deaths.
Horses routinely sustain catastrophic injuries while racing and either drop dead on the track or are euthanised after their broken bodies have been dragged out of sight. Such incidents are not rare. They are business as usual.
Horses are whipped and forced to run at speeds of more than 50 kilometres per hour on tracks that are often made of hard-packed dirt. Injuries are often masked with drugs, and horses who should be resting and recuperating are forced to go right back onto the track.
Horses who manage to survive are rarely retired to grassy pastures. Dismissed as “wastage”, unwanted horses often end up at abattoirs to be turned into pet food or are shipped to countries such as Japan and France, which sell horse meat for human consumption.
People who care about horses should steer clear of the track if they don’t want to contribute to the continuing death toll.
Posted by Claire Fryer