explainer

Brutal tactics and a record fine: What else went wrong in Tuesday's 'race that stops a nation'.

With every new year, the Melbourne Cup reels out its famous slogan: 'The race that stops the nation.'

But increasingly it does more dividing than stopping, with the 'Nup to the Cup' movement gaining momentum with every new controversy the $7.75 million dollar race throws up.

This year, once again, a horse had to be euthanised after the race, which is a storyline that's become all too familiar. A storyline we can almost predict will happen before the horses have even left the gates.

Watch the last 30 seconds of the Melbourne Cup race here. Post continues below. 


Video via Horce Racing Global.

Anthony Van Dyck was a firm favourite to win on Tuesday, but 400 metres in he suddenly broke down. It wasn’t immediately clear what had happened, but it looked like he had injured his leg. 

Those familiar with what happens to injured horses in this sport immediately speculated that we had just witnessed the last few minutes of Anthony Van Dyck’s life.

They were right. 

With a fractured fetlock, the five-year-old Irish stallion "was unable to be saved due to the nature of the injury sustained". 

Anthony Van Dyck is the seventh horse since 2013 to pass away after running the Melbourne Cup, with his death on the front covers of newspapers today, instead of the actual winner of the race, Twilight Payment. 

Anthony Van Dyck had to be euthanized after the race on Tuesday. Image: Brett Holburt/Racing Photos/Getty.

But it wasn't the only controversy to occur in that four-minute bolt to the finish line at Flemington. 

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Jockey Kerrin McEvoy finished second in Tuesday's race on Tiger Moth, but he has since been suspended for his performance during the famous race - accused of overusing his whip in his desire to get across that finish line first. 

McEvoy yesterday pleaded guilty to whipping Tiger Moth 13 times before the 100-metre mark and 21 times in total.

Jockeys cannot whip more than five times before the 100-metre mark, but many have argued - like the RSPCA - that even five times is too many. The argument seems to be that it's okay to strike a horse, as long as you don't strike it too much. 

The very purpose of the jockey's whip is to make the horses run faster and to maintain speed when tiring towards the end of a race. In recent years experts have proven that horses' skin is not only thinner than that of a human, but it may be even more sensitive to pain. But still the practice remains.

McEvoy has been suspended for 13 race meetings and fined a record $50,000 for striking his horse nearly two dozen times, which means he'll be handing back the majority of his $55,000 earnings from the race. 

Jockey Kerrin McEvoy riding Tiger Moth before the Melbourne Cup. Image: Vince Caligiuri/Getty

It's the biggest fine in Melbourne Cup history and matches the $50,000 penalty given to Greg Hall for improper riding after his win in the 1996 Golden Slipper.

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Slowly but surely, more and more people are shunning the Cup, as Australians grow increasingly uncomfortable with the cruelty and death that goes hand in hand with the industry. 

The industry will of course claim otherwise, but the stats speak for themselves:

From the period between August 1, 2019, to July 31, 2020, 116 horses died in Australia on the track or soon after racing, according to the annual Deathwatch report.

50 per cent of racehorses in Australia have blood in their windpipe, while 90 per cent had blood in their lungs, says a 2015 University of Melbourne research paper.

Thousands of healthy thoroughbred racehorses were being shipped to their deaths at abattoirs where they were being killed for human consumption, reported ABC’s 7.30 last year.

This year, Channel Ten's coverage of the race was slightly down on last year despite the ban on attendance at the grounds pushing more people than ever before to consume the race on a screen.

With 1.41 million metro viewers, it represented the lowest TV ratings since 2001.

Online, the sentiment reflected a growing rejection of the race too.

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But the industry is enormous and is worth more than $1.16 billion per annum to the Australian economy.

The ratings will need to get a lot lower, and the outrage more widespread, before Australia has the leverage to say 'Nup to the Cup' once and for all. 

Feature image: Reg Ryan/Racing Photos/Getty.

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