After being the race that stops the nation for over 150 years, the Melbourne Cup is bringing many Aussies to a halt for a different reason in 2019 as they say ‘nup to the cup’.
Six racehorses have died since 2013 as a result of the annual event that takes place on the first Tuesday of November. From signs to Twitter hashtags and celebrity boycotts, people of all generations are now turning away from the social and sporting spectacle.
Animal rights activists are protesting outside Victoria’s Flemington Racecourse to take a stand after greater public awareness was sparked by the ABC’s recent 7:30pm coverage revealing hundreds of registered racehorses were being killed at slaughterhouses.
Meanwhile across the country others are ditching their fascinators and sweepstakes for anti-Melbourne Cup parties where proceeds go to horse and animal charities.
On Tuesday morning Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi said a Royal Commission into the horse racing industry was needed.
“Year after year we see the needless painful deaths of horses, including five in the last six Melbourne Cups,” she said. “More and more people are recognising that animals never win when gambling profits are at stake. That’s why I say ‘nup’ to the cup.
“After all the evidence of animal cruelty and racehorses being sent to slaughterhouses in appalling conditions, we urgently need a Royal Commission into cruelty in horse racing to hold the industry to account.”
The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses found 122 horses had died on Aussie tracks in one year, while ‘on average one horse will die on Australian racetracks every three days’.
This year celebrities have also boycotted the Melbourne Cup. After US singer Taylor Swift pulled out of her performance due to ‘scheduling’ issues, Lexus ambassador and Australian model Megan Gale announced she wouldn’t be attending. Lexus is the major sponsor of the event.
Former Australian Idol contestant Anthony Callea will still be performing at the event, but said he will donate his performance fee to an equine welfare and rehabilitation organisation.
“This I hope will help them continue their work in ensuring the safety and future of these beautiful animals,” he wrote on Instagram.
“I know this will not satisfy all, but I do hope in a time of differing opinions across many aspects of our society, that the singing of the National Anthem will unite us in our differences, and help celebrate and showcase my hometown of Melbourne and our beautiful country on the world stage.”