HORSE RACING IS SHIT: An Anti-Melbourne Cup Message

By Justin Anthony

Beyond the track-side deaths and injuries, the known psychological distresses during training and confinement, the deaths in breeding affectionately termed ‘wastage’, the administering of injectable stimulants, injectable pain relief and the ridiculous spectacle of vaulting humankind’s smallest specimens on top of the mammal kingdom’s biggest… there is something that has always nagged at me about horse racing.

Nagged at me harder than why Eddie McGuire exists.

It’s not the normalisation of a gambling culture, though that is regrettable. 
It’s not the tinder profile-crafting douchebags and showponies.
It’s not even fucking Geoffrey Edelsten.
It’s alot more subtle than all of that.

With horse racing comes an implied world-view that humans are all that matters. When our once-a-year amusement ranks as a higher priority than the torture of creatures we consider too majestic to even eat, you can be sure that we have completely severed humankind from the animal kingdom. The picture of man’s frenzied whipping of a thoroughbred in flight is an enduring image of our irreverent dominance over all other species… and it is one we burn into our national psyche every November. “Fuck you, nature” beams the small man with the riding crop in festive silks and an ill-fitting beret.

This attitude is one which held humankind in good stead throughout most of its history. When local threats were vast and the natural world infinite, it made at least practical sense to pillage everything at our disposal to ensure our survival. In 2016, local threats are all but non-existent (barring those currently fleeing oppressive regimes) and the natural world has been discovered to be very, very finite. If humankind has any chance of reversing the trend of planetary carnage it is creating, it needs to QUICKLY let go of some attitudes it has traditionally held dear in times of natural abundance. These include (but are not limited to):

• The right to a big family trumping obvious overpopulation issues
• Cultural sovereignty trumping human compassion for asylum seekers (google “Tony Abbott lectures Europe on how he lost his job”)
• “But I like the taste of bacon” trumping bacon
• 150 years of Australian sporting history trumping its inherent cruelty

As an 8 year-old, I remember prodding my dad to place $2 on Subzero and squealing when she crossed first. To this day I have never chosen any other Mortal Kombat character. To say that the Melbourne Cup is part of the Australian existence is no less true now than it was in 1992, or indeed in 1861. It just needs to NOT be. Sure, whether or not we kill or harm a bunch of horses wont determine whether humankind makes it out of this mess alive, but there’s a respect for animals and nature which we need to start imparting on all 8 year-olds. We need to teach that humankind must live within its means and RESPOND when the science shows that our means are reduced. Treating horses with respect FOR ITS OWN SAKE teaches us that humans should fit within the world, not saddled on top of it with a riding crop. It’s time we become (ahem) a nation that stops a race.