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The race that shames the nation

The Beagle Editor,

Reportedly eight jockeys have been fined for overuse of the whip at Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup Day including the winner. The use of the whip in horseracing has been and continues to be an extremely contentious issue around the world. It is clear that jockeys and their owners care little for the rules and gladly pay the paltry fines for breaching them. Whipping the horses over and over again inflicts physical and psychological pain and increases the likelihood of injury. Somehow, the racing industry has escaped accountability for this blatant act of abuse. Had the same routine treatment been inflicted on any other animal, the perpetrator would almost certainly be prosecuted.

On February 19th, 1966, a 52-year old former jockey in England named Walter Hoysted casually walked onto the racetrack armed with a double barrelled shotgun. Hoysted told officials he would use the gun if the jockeys rode with whips in the upcoming race, the Fulham Hurdle.He was later charged but successfully drew attention to the unnecessary use of whips in horseracing. Whilst Wally Hoysted is no longer with us, the point he raised over 40 years ago is still one of racing’s most hotly debated topics to this day.

In 1991 the independent Senate Select Committee into Animal Welfare in the racing industry in Australia stated in its Report that

“the Committee, (however) cannot condone the use of the whip to inflict pain on a horse for no other purpose than to make the horse run faster in what is essentially a sporting event. Competent riding of a horse using only hands and heels to urge the horse on should provide just as an exciting race and may also encourage more emphasis on improving horsemanship. The Committee would like to see the use of whips as a means of making a horse run faster eliminated from horse racing”.

Regrettably and shamefully, no State Government in Australia enforced this recommendation.

There have been over 120 horses killed this year on the track in Australia alone and more still classified as ‘wastage’ end up at the slaughterhouse.

All of this in the name of sport. Is it worth it?

Coral Anderson




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