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Thursday 26 October 2023

They shoot horses don't they? Yes, all the time

It is the peak of the horse racing season in Australia with the Melbourne Cup just around the corner.

Which means huge crowds, big money for bookmakers, a massive boost for tourism and, usually, several horses being pushed beyond their limits and dying.

The 2023-24 season in Australian began on August 1 - and in the very first week of the new 'racing year' 10 horses were killed due to injuries sustained on Australian racetracks.

That following a record year of racehorse death in Australia in 2022-23 - with 168 horses dying at race tracks around the nation.

The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR) published its Deathwatch 2023 Report this week, which reflected the grimmest toll since CPR started recording race-day deaths in 2014.

The record number was a 20% increase in racehorse deaths from the previous year and represented a horse being killed on an Australian racetrack every two days from August 1, 2022 to July 31 this year.

CPR campaign director Elio Celotto says this season is on track to be even worse than its predecessor.

“It is simply not good enough for the racing industry to be putting out propaganda videos about how much they care about their horses when they are turning a blind eye to all the horses killed on the track,” Celotto says.

"We’re seeing the racing industry do what it always does when it tries to regain the confidence of the public. It spends more and more money on the marketing machine instead of doing the real work of caring about its horses.”

CPR has been researching and publishing a record of deaths caused by racing-related injuries because the racing industry does not collate and publish the horrific data, he says.

CPR monitors every race in Australia to keep an annual count of the gruesome stats.

It says 51 of the 168 horses killed by racing last season died past the winning post, meaning many were suffering injuries while being beaten and pushed beyond their limits to the finish line.

New South Wales has the most blood on its hands of any state with 53 deaths, followed by Queensland with 40 and Victoria with 39.

The report revealed Racing Victoria was the biggest culprit of not reporting the cause of death of a horse - failing to do so on 16 separate occasions.

"Efforts to hide deaths are greater than ever,” Celotto says. “When the racing industry chooses to ignore calls for transparency, it means it has much to hide.”

And he says deaths are actually higher than reported.

“Many sustain injuries and are taken off the racetrack and later euthanised. This way their deaths don’t have to appear in stewards’ reports. The industry records them as ‘retired’ and wipes their hands of them.

“If the racing industry was serious about animal welfare, it would offer complete transparency about the retirement of all its horses.

“As the nation prepares to get into party mode for the Melbourne Cup, people need to know they are actually ‘celebrating’ the maiming and murder of a magnificent, highly intelligent and sensitive animal on an industrial scale.

“I’m sure the Champagne wouldn’t taste so sweet if people were aware of how cruel and bloodthirsty the sport is.”

Worth bearing in mind.

Image: Abdullah Minhas, 

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