Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Is Melbourne Cup Day Really So Glamorous?

For Those Who Love to Look BTS

With Melbourne Cup day upon us once again, we are almost buried in the “glamour” of the spring racing carnival and the race that stops a nation. Melbourne Cup is one of the biggest days of the year for Australian fashion. In the leqad up, miliners are never as busy. Department stores are well stocked with fascinators. Business for fashion, footwear and accessories is never more brisk. Luncheon tickets fly off booking-sites faster than anything else.

There’s no doubt that getting a fun-loving easy-going group of women together to celebrate getting dressed up in their best day-wear is hard to beat. Add to that the sight of men in body hugging silk suits and crisp white shirts and you have a combination that’s dressed to kill. A public holiday only in Melbourne, the rest of the country ends up having an unofficial half-day holiday as well, as the “race that stops a nation” heralds those at work stations across the country to leave their keyboards and gather around the nearest television set to watch the race.

With all the hype surrounding Melbourne Cup, you’d be forgiven for thinking we’d be donning our finest to be the first ones in line. But we’re not. It’s the big day of the year to which we give a big miss. We tried it once. A long time ago. It wasn’t the fun we expected it to be. Surrounded by drunks showing us with their worst, frequently misogynistic behaviour, we found ourselves being scrutinised like pieces of meat lined up in a butcher’s cabinet. We found ourselves treading with difficulty on grass surfaces that swallowed our heels and covered them in grime. The day turned out to be a pot pouri of endless bad behaviour, shrieking and bad taste, devoid of class or conscience. Both literally and figuratively, turned out to be all horseshit and flies. It’s not something that we’d ever recommend attending, for more important reasons than these. What could they be?

Horse-racing is anything but glamorous. It’s a highly exploitive. Most of its athletes, the horses, wind up dead long before their time. And it’s now scientifically proven to be cruel to horses.

According to Animals Australia: “This industry, while claiming to ‘love horses’, continues to defend the practices of whipping exhausted animals and using barbaric ‘tongue ties’. Such practices highlight how unnatural racing is for horses – if horses love to run at such speeds, why would whips be used at all, and why would tongue ties be required to prevent them from choking?”

“For a large proportion of those who make it to the racetrack, the exertion of racing leads them to bleed into their lungs and windpipe (called Exercise-Induced Pulmonary Haemorrhage). A study carried out by the University of Melbourne found that 50% of racehorses had blood in the windpipe, and 90% had blood deeper in the lungs.”

There were 168 racing-related deaths by horses in the last year. That’s one death every 2-days.

With around 15,000 foals born each year in Australia, horses that would typically live up to 30 years are killed by the time they are only 3 years old. That is, if they make it to the race-track. The norm is for them to “disappear” if they can’t run fast enough or don’t win enough races for their owners.

“Mass horse slaughter has long been accepted by the horse racing industry as the ‘cost of doing business’. This is an industry that continues to defend the practice of whipping exhausted animals and the use of barbaric ‘tongue ties’, while ignoring the fact that at least one horse dies every 2 days on Australian racetracks and that seven horses have died in the last eight Melbourne Cup races alone. It is unsurprising that this gambling industry continues to avoid addressing the underlying problem, and has even claimed that sometimes a slaughterhouse is “the best welfare outcome” for the horses who no longer turn a profit.

By all means, get dressed up, party and have fun. But can you also do it as part of Melbourne Cup festivities knowing what it’s REALLY all about? Is that the kind of glamour you’re happy to be part of? Not us. We’ll be partying well away from anything associated with one of the deadliest sports in our country.

Featured Image: Les Brown

Related Articles:
Nup to the Cup Day
Can Fashion Do Without the Melbourne Cup?
Alternative Fashion Events to the Melbourne Cup
Fashion Fun Without the Cruelty – Melbourne Cup Day

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