The Race That Stops The Nation: Arguing Against the Arguments for

The nation has been stopped. The horses have raced, the jockeys have whipped, the punters have bet their dollar bills and wept their losses or celebrated their wins and the spectators have drunk themselves into a stumbling stupor. The hugely popular Melbourne Cup event is done and dusted for another year.

But while 100,000+ people crowded Flemington Racecourse to watch the action live and millions of others around Australia knocked off at midday to head to their nearest TAB, a hefty number of individuals (and organisations) protested against the industry.

Horse racing has been around for centuries. It’s an ancient form of entertainment that is becoming more heavily scrutinised as the years pass by. Arguments against the industry range from the breeding of hundreds of thousands of horses, to the inhumane practices carried out on the tracks, to the devastating fate of horses and foals deemed unfit to race.

As with any issue regarding animal welfare, these arguments have been rebutted by supporters of the racing industry. But how futile are their confutations?

Here are a few of the arguments I’ve heard/read/received from people defending the race… and my arguments against their arguments for.

1. It creates essential revenue for the Australian economy
$$ > morals is the one of the biggest flaws of human evolution.

Yes, the Melbourne Cup brings a disturbingly large sum of $1.7 billion into the economy each year, but it also throws away a fair chunk (cough 6 million prize money cough). Just because an industry pours money into the economy does not make it viable or sustainable in any way… What’s that saying about the rich getting richer?

2. Thousands of employees would lose their jobs if the industry collapsed
First of all, people lose their jobs (and families) because of gambling addictions every day. Who do you think would face a bigger struggle to pick up work – someone who fell deep into the black hole of gambling, or someone who was inconveniently caught up in working for a cruel and outdated industry that all came to a crashing end?

Secondly, society is constantly changing and evolving and jobs are constantly being culled while newer, ones are created. For the horse racing industry to continue just so a few thousand people can continue promoting their “responsible betting” tactics is a ridiculous notion.

3. “It’s tradition”
So bloody what? We’ve managed to overrule and outlaw a ton of other traditional events over time, why should this one be any different? Because of the money and employment opportunities it brings? Please refer to my aforementioned ripostes. 

4. It’s a bloody good time / we want to keep the public holiday 
The most futile argument yet. I vote we do what Dave Callan suggests and keep the public holiday + typical Aussie shenanigans but change the logistics of it all.


I know it may be frustrating to see your precious newsfeed flooding with negativity about one of your favourite events of the year, but unless you are a shallow-hearted, bloodlust caveman you have to admit – the evidence is brutally honest.

The more people who spread awareness of the cruelty behind-the-scenes or propose a ban on traditional events like this one, the better chance we have of finding replacements for them. Replacements that don’t involve the unnecessary suffering of our furry friends or encourage unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Please, before you pull your money out of your pockets next year, consider the fact that you’re betting on the livelihood of innocent creatures – and the real outcomes of the race yield no winners.

‘WASTAGE’ from Animals Australia on Vimeo.


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