While those in Melbourne receive a public holiday to enjoy the “race that stops the nation”, many workplaces across the country will be celebrating, whether it be an office sweeps, in-house catering or a full blown boozy lunch off site at a swanky restaurant. My colleagues will be among them.
I will instead spend the day at the office, working until 5pm and eating lunch alone (sans Champagne), actively choosing not to support the Melbourne Cup. I haven’t asked for any special treatment nor made a big fuss, merely saying I would prefer not to attend on ethical grounds and will instead continue my work day as normal, albeit a little quieter.
I haven’t always felt this way. I’ve previously been involved in many race day events, including planning corporate race days and heading up large in-office functions for Melbourne Cup. I loved the fashion and glamour of the races, however now all it represents for me is the acceptance of using animals for entertainment, no matter the cost.
In the 12 months to July 31 alone, 137 horses died on Australian racetracks; that’s one every 2.6 days, according to a report by the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses. An even bigger risk for them is being classified as ‘wastage’; animals that are bred to be racehorses but don’t make the cut (with only a reported 30 per cent of thoroughbreds ever even making it to the racetrack) or the ones who are past their use-by date and no longer profitable.
Horses are expensive to keep, and the easiest solution is to sell them off to slaughterhouses. Figures are harder to come by as there is no mandatory reporting, however according to a 2012 ABC report, with roughly 15,000 thoroughbreds being born every year, industry insiders suspect that up to 10,000 horses are sent to the slaughterhouse. Those odds aren’t great.