Melbourne Cup: how Australia’s signature race lost its hold on the nation

By | May 3, 2020

The chance of raising a horse race from a spot sporting occasion to a countrywide symbol is that, whilst the state adjustments, so too should the event.

That is the task dealing with the organisers of the Melbourne Cup, who are torn among upholding the traditions of an inherently conservative recreation and attempting to maintain their maintain on the general public consciousness notwithstanding pockets of concern and a developing sense of indifference.

Recent photos of racehorses finishing their careers at the slaughterhouse may also show a tipping factor for what has become an event that a few now see as no less outdated and exploitative as a circus with elephants.

College of Sydney professor Carole Cusack, who wrote in 2009 that attending the Melbourne Cup at Flemington become one of Australia’s secular pilgrimages, said she once taken into consideration the primary Tuesday in November to be the one “surprisingly unproblematic” entry in Australia’s triptych of country wide days, which incorporates Australia Day and Anzac Day.
Increasing difficulty approximately the welfare of retired horses and a string of deaths on the tune – 6 horses have died during or because of the Melbourne Cup considering that 2013 – have changed that.

“it’s far not rather unproblematic,” Cusack stated.

Anecdotal proof suggests the tide can be turning among a broader public. Dozens of humans mother or father Australia spoke to – many previously impartial or mildly fantastic towards the race – say they plan to boycott the office sweep this year. Others say they were already appalled by the cultural draw back of seeing dozens of properly-dressed adults vomiting into port-a-bogs at 2pm, describing the spectacle of horse racing as each insufferably stuffy and unbearably gauche.

a few who’ve attended a spring carnival occasion in Melbourne as a way to look buddies every yr say they may now not go back until the enterprise submits to independent, robust law, in place of opaque industry-led guarantees to make certain spent thoroughbreds are retired to new houses.

they’ve requested the way to stability their growing unease with the reminiscence in their teetotaling grandmother putting a bet each way for her grandchildren.

“must I tell my death father, eager to make a few lasting recollections together with his family that I should no longer aid the sport, or should I just humour him and my mom?” one female wrote. “How should I be real to my want to guide ethical treatment of animals but admire my circle of relatives’s traditions?”

The headline act, Taylor quick, pulled out in September following a marketing campaign by way of lovers urging her no longer to aid it for animal welfare reasons, to be replaced with the aid of 2004 Australian Idol runner-up Anthony Callea. Callea has pledged to donate his performance charge to a horse welfare charity. stick insect Megan Gale, a fixture of the cup carnival for the past decade and brand ambassador for the race’s major sponsor, Lexus, says she gained’t attend because of animal cruelty issues. some agencies have cancelled their annual Melbourne Cup lunch.
Even the bookies are involved, reportedly pronouncing it will be “too tough to make money this year” with betters extra interested in different sports activities.

If the Melbourne Cup were only a horse race, it would now not generate this stage of national angst. but “the race that forestalls the country” had loftier goals, embedding itself inside the countrywide identity.