Uncoupling Fashion from The Melbourne Cup
There’s no arguing that attendance numbers are down for horse racing all around the country and that includes the Melbourne Cup. The biggest drop appeared to come in 2019. That was the year that Animals Australia had its investigation into the cruel treatment of “retired” race-horses aired on the ABC’s 4 Corners programme. It was the same year was that guest performer Taylor Swift suddenly became unavailable, along with Meghan Gale and a few others, who have since not returned to the Birdcage.
Meanwhile, another 139 racehorses have died in Australia in the past year alone. The Melbourne Cup itself has seen 7 horses die in the last 10 years.
As we become more and more aware of the harsh realities of life and death for race horses, more of us are turning our backs on the Melbourne Cup and other horse-racing events. Nup to the Cup events, which can be found all over the internet are actually increasing in popularity. Celebrating all animals, not just horses, donations from these events are often made to the RSPCA and animal welfare groups.
In an attempt to counter the growing unpopularity of horse-racing, Racing Victoria has updated its home page with a Here for the Horses banner and links to a series of horse welfare posts. There are so many posts in fact, that you’d be forgiven for thinking the site was dedicated to equine welfare rather than gambling. A number of the claims on the site have been disproven by the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses. For example, the industry states that only 1% of racehorses are killed each year in the knackeries, when there is evidence to show that a higher number than that are actually killed per week in a single knackery!
The link between fashion and horse racing is still tight. The busiest time of year for milliners is in the lead up to the spring racing carnival and fashion stylists are never busier than helping to get their clients sorted with what to wear on each of the big racing days.
It’s still possible however, to support the local fashion industry whilst saying Nup to the Cup. After all, Melbourne Fashion Week used to be called Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, heavily promoting fashions to be worn at the city’s Spring Racing Carnival. Since it uncoupled itself from racing fashion, Melbourne Fashion Week seems to have grown exponentially. It’s possible that the same kind of thing might happen with fashion’s links to the Melbourne Cup. As PETA reminds us, every time we buy clothes and accessories, we have an opportunity to make a statement about who we are and how we treat others. We can extend this idea to attending the Melbourne Cup. Just say Nup.
Featured Image: @fussygus