We love our horse racing, we love horses, and we stand up for the sport wherever and whenever we see a spoiler alert hurtling its way.
This is why it’s both disappointing and worrying to see the triumphs of Melbourne Cup day overshadowed by choreographed outrage, knee-jerk reactions, and hand-wringing opportunists needing their fix of fifteen seconds of fame.
For the dyed-in-the-wool racing fan, however, nothing can take away from the brilliance of Ryan Moore and the dominant win of Germany’s Protectionist. It was International teamwork at its lethal best.
After fobbed off as being “overrated”, especially after his ride on Mount Athos in the 2012 Melbourne Cup, Ryan Moore- not that he would give a toss- “redeemed” himself with Australian racing fans.
If his great ride on Adelaide to win the Cox Plate might have been overshadowed by the withering finishing burst of the Aiden O’Brien-trained super galloper, Moore showed canny brilliance to get the German-owned and trained Protectionist home for a comfortable four-length win to take out the Melbourne Cup. It was a one-horse affair.
The win by Protectionist, the second consecutive Melbourne Cup winner to be sired by Monsun, a fact rarely mentioned, was also testament to the German breeding industry.
Again, not known to many except to those with a knowledge of the past and an eye towards the future, is the huge success of the German breeding industry and now really coming into own through. It’s taken time, but this has to do with strict policies covering a number of subjects put into place over twenty years by current HKJC CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges when he was CEO of the governing body of German horse racing and by working together with the German Breeders and Owners Association.
As for other highlights of the Melbourne Cup, there was Red Cadeaux running in the Cup- as an eight-year-old- and under the urgings of bon ami Gerald Mosse.
Red Cadeaux might not have won the race, but the tough-as-old-boots Ed Dunlop-trained galloper is always a winner with racing fans. Jeez, give this marvellous horse its own special Red Cadeaux Cup and have a race named in its honour. Looking at the photo below of a chilled Red Cadeaux after his Cup’s run, roll on 2015.
Ironically, where this year’s running of the Melbourne Cup went sadly off the rails was right after the big race though the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR) had set the wheels in motion of its anti-horse racing campaign much earlier. This was with the strategic piece of communications designed to shock. And it did- in many different ways.
CPR and its Spokesman Ward Young were to return, and play the Animal Rights card without thinking of the human emotions involved in horse racing.
Unlike tackling the thousands of human rights violations, the CPR had found a soft target- horse racing- and were sticking to their “Unique Selling Point” as the tragic news of, first, Admiral Rakti, and then, Araldo, became known. The CPR’s very own “death wish” had come true.
If Ward Young and the CPR think horse racing to be a cruel sport void of human emotion, they need the picture below of the devastated owner of Admire Rakti firmly etched into their consciousness. They were inconsolable. Ever felt that way, Ward?
Whether a horse racing fan or not, to say one felt for the Japanese team would be a gross understatement. That one photo said it all and one couldn’t also help but think of jockey Zac Purton and how his mind might have been assimilating all that was happening- and had happened- and what might have happened if Admire Rakti had collapsed in the running.
Thankfully, he didn’t, but would there be all this hand-wringing by the CPR if anything happened to this jockey who remains gutted at what happened to one of his favourite horses? One doubts it. Zac Purton doesn’t fall under “animal welfare”.
As for Racing Victoria, racing’s governing body and the VRC, what was-and is- going through the minds of the executives who worked to make this Race That Stopped A Nation happen?
What started as a steady low hum and has grown to be a very loud critical scream is not unlike what befell the music industry.
This was when Tipper Gore won her battle for the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) to have Parental Advisory Warnings placed on records that the PMRC believed used profanity.
The problem with giving into anti-anything groups is that they’re never satisfied.
Like Oliver Twist, with renewed public and mainstream media support on their side, they return for more- and more and more- until confusion reigns, and, as Bob Dylan sang, Nobody’s right when everybody’s wrong.
The way this is going, it won’t, as some say, go away as there will be the upcoming ODIs to bitch about. No, the non-racing media has jumped on the bandwagon, the death of a firefighter was relegated to page four of one newspaper as the dead horse story had to be flogged on the front page, a Them versus Us battle that began two years ago has escalated and which will require the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job to resolve.
Peter McGauran, CEO of the Australian Racing Board, is no Solomon, nor Job to fight the good fight and replies like, “Yeah, fair point” when pointing out he’s got his maths wrong, is not good enough even though it comes rolling off that feeble toffee tongue of his.
Thank gawd for Shane Anderson’s interview with Dr Tom Brennan, a modest man with a genuine love for horses, who talked with great emotion about the death of the Michael Moroney-trained Araldo.
Hearing Tom Brennan become overcome with grief talking about this horse would have teared up everyone listening in. I did, and, as a supposed animal lover, so would have Ward Young and every member of the CPR.
Let’s just hope that cool heads prevail, and that sensationalism for the sake of a page one story is kept in check, and that Australian racing doesn’t find itself held to ransom by more Ward Youngs.
One Ward Young and his ringing of alarm bells and a calling to arms of his flock is more than enough.
Isn’t it time Racing Victoria, the Australian racing Board, Racing NSW and every other State racing governing body got proactive and challenged Ward Young and his so-called Animal Rights activists for their hypocrisy in singling out the thoroughbred racing industry, while adopting a deadly and deafening silence on basic cruelty to animals that are caged up in zoos, who are mistreated and punished into submission in circuses?
Hell, do these social misfits and outcasts who call themselves animal rights activists ever cast their blinkered eyes over what takes place when dogs are trained to compete in dog shows? Have they heard of pigeon racing? Do they know the attrition rate in pigeon racing where birds of prey feast on squab, and where birds can die of sheer exhaustion?
And the real doozy was the news today that the Australian Government was patting itself on their collective backsides after announcing a trade agreement with China to begin live cattle exports to China, replicating live sheep and cattle exports to the Middle East and Indonesia – exports which will earn Australian farmers billions of dollars, and which have famously been condemned for the gross cruelty that these animals have been subjected to in their ports of destination before slaughter.
How about turning your attention to these blatant and obvious examples of cruelty to animals, Ward Young, and your sanctimonious mates? Perhaps Rupert and his editors wouldn’t dare upset their powerful business lobby mates with coverage of such animal rights issues?
No Ward Young, racing is a soft target, and will remain so, while the timid toffee-tongued leaders of Australian racing allow the likes of you and your mates to get free kick after free kick and run the agenda.
As someone who knows quite a bit about the objectives of Greenpeace and Amnesty International, where is the CPR going with their campaign? What is its end game?
If it’s to cripple the horse racing industry, it will be a lost cause for reasons too lengthy to get into here. If it’s to change the goalposts, it won’t be the last times these will be asked to change. Give in once, and the spider would have got the fly.
One final thing: At a time when the whole world is watching, to the racing person who boasted to me how it’s “the Aussie way” to come to this great race meeting steeped in history with one thing in mind- to get absolutely legless, behave like bogans and “pull good looking sheilas”- and for these “good looking sheilas”, who arrive dressed in all their finery, to end up being gibbering shagbags looking for blokes and with absolutely no interest in the racing- is stupid talk.
To condone this behaviour as “terrific fun that Australia waits all year to happen”, screams out, You have lost the plot, matey.
It’s bad for the image of horse racing- in Australia and globally- as it paints a very ugly picture of a sport- an ugly picture that’s picked up by critics of the sport and a media hungry for a story that can run longer than “Neighbours”.
Keep things positive and remember the good times.