As the first Tuesday of November arrives each year, the same debate rears its ugly, righteous head: Is the Melbourne Cup glorified animal cruelty or is it a tradition crucial to Australian culture?
The RSPCA is hoping we can agree on an in-between.
Yes, the champers and the frocks can stay. So too, can the lunch-time sweepstakes at the office. The racing can continue. But the whipping… The whipping has to stop.
Do we really need to be flogging our horses as they thunder around the track? No. No we do not.
There are a few reasons why this is so.
In no other circumstance would it be considered ‘sportsmanlike’ to flog an animal with leather for the sole purpose of making it succumb to your commands.
Dogs? No. Cats? You wouldn’t dare. Elephants? It happens, and it shouldn’t.
Aside from being cruel, whipping is also unnecessary. Independent research from the RSPCA found 98 per cent of horses are being whipped without any influence on the outcome of the race.
In other words, just for theatrics. Think: Quentin Tarantino, but in real life.
Finally, banning whipping will not affect our Melbourne Cup celebrations.
The same independent research, commissioned by the RSPCA, found three-in-four Australians believe horses shouldn't be whipped. And that nine out of 10 people would continue watching and betting on races, even if whipping is disallowed.
The bets are still on. The champagne is still cold. And there remains an excuse for wearing a flowery spring dress and taking a long, boozy lunch.
All with just one condition: The whipping must stop.
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