Public holidays should be occasions to honour significant events in our country’s history or celebrate festivals such as Christmas and Easter.
On Melbourne Cup Day, horses are whipped and pushed past their limits. Normally, we’d call that cruelty to animals, but in Victoria, it’s a day off work for the sole purpose of gambling with horses’ lives. This needs to stop.
© Liss Ralston
PETA has sent a letter to Victorian Minister for Trade and Investment Philip Dalidakis asking him to replace the Melbourne Cup Day public holiday with a day that is more respectful to animals and more representative of Australian values.
“Considering Australians hate cruelty to animals, commemorating a day on which horses routinely die in the Melbourne Cup is fundamentally un-Australian,” reads the letter. “While public holidays give Aussies a break, horses are breaking legs.”
8 Things You Need to Know About Horse Racing
The Melbourne Cup epitomises the cruelty of the horse-racing industry. Researchers at the University of Melbourne discovered that of the horses used for racing who were assessed, more than half had blood in their windpipes – an abnormal condition that indicates that the animals are being run beyond what their bodies can withstand. During last year’s event, Regal Monarch broke his leg and was later euthanised.In 2015, Red Cadeaux sustained the same deadly injury.
The 2014 race resulted in the death of two horses: Admire Rakti, who collapsed and died in his stall after the race, and Araldo, who broke his right hind leg and had to be euthanised. A year earlier, Verema was euthanised right on the track as officials scrambled to erect tarps around the downed horse.
Of course, horses die at lower-profile racing events all the time: 119 were pronounced dead on Australian tracks between August 2017 and July 2018 – that’s one animal every three days. They die of cardiac arrest, haemorrhaging, ruptured aortas, and broken necks, legs, or pelvises, and that’s without mentioning the thousands of horses bred for the industry who don’t make the grade and are abandoned, neglected, or sent to slaughter.
Supporting such carnage – with a holiday, no less – is unacceptable.
If you do have the day off on 6 November and don’t want to support the cruel horse-racing industry, events that boycott the Melbourne Cup grow in number and popularity every year. Check out this list to find one near you.