Centrebet Racing

Horseracing has a dark side


Thousands of people get pleasure from betting on, attending races or even being the owner of one or more racehorses.  Thousands of activists also regularly point out that many thoroughbreds end up as dog food. At a Gold Coast Magic Millions Carnival, up to 50 protesters, including one dressed as a butcher and drenched in fake blood, greeted racegoers with “horsielicious” cans of dog food at the main entrance.

There is formal protection

The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR) wants to draw attention to the dark side of horseracing and build public pressure for a national retirement plan for ex-race horses. Their research showed that about 15,000 racehorses end up at the knackery every year. The CPR is urging the Australian Racing Board to back a plan for the industry to commit one per cent of its annual betting turnover, estimated to be $143 million, to saving racehorses from slaughter.

Animals Australia has sought to raise awareness about the dark side of horseracing, saying injuries are often deadly to the animals and most horses bred for the track end up in the slaughterhouse. “Some 18,000 horses are bred in Australia every year — two thirds of them will never see the track. Every year, thousands of thoroughbreds are sold at auctions for a few hundred dollars apiece, only to be ferried away and ‘processed’ into pet meat,” says Animals Australia.

Much attention but less love

There’s another worry, though – the issue of stress, pain and suffering that thoroughbreds experience during their training and during actual races.

AUSTRALIA’S most glamorous race, the Melbourne Cup, has had its fair share of tragedy. In 2014, the racing favourite Admire Rakti died after the race and another runner fractured its leg and was later put down. Admire Rakti started shaking, then collapsed and died in its stalls. The diagnosis was that “…the horse died of acute heart failure as a result of ventricular fibrillation probably, which is a disorganised heart rhythm which happens very, very rarely in human athletes and in horses and is a consequence of the athletic heart and the rapid heart rate during racing”.

At that same moment, Araldo, which finished 7th, was left fighting for its life after it shied at a spectator’s flag, jumped a fence and fractured a cannon bone — a large bone in the lower leg. It was put down within hours. This time, “exertion is likely to have played a major part. If it was a heart issue, it is more akin to an elite athlete dropping dead in the middle of a game. Usually there is no indication or abnormality … it is just freakishly bad luck.” Some tragedies end on a more positive note. In 2015, Red Cadeaux, which was pulled out of the race after suffering an injury to its left fore fetlock, survived surgery and was said to be “doing well”.

Not your average patient

Actually, horses are not good patients and seldom recover completely from fractures. Most leg fractures never heal to the point where they can win a race again. The sheer weight of a horse means their bones often shatter into irreparable pieces. Losing the complete use of one leg is not an option, as a horse cannot bear its weight on three legs only.

The average racehorse will race for less than 3 years before being discarded. CPR claims that many will be sent to sale yards where most are bought by knackeries. While some ex-racehorses find loving and caring homes, the vast majority will be killed after their careers come to an end.
It’s a fair prediction that horseracing, unless it undergoes major reforms to ensure the physical and psychological health of horses, will become a thing of the past – like bullfights. It’s part of an inevitable evolution towards total respect for our animals. Makes sense, doesn’t it?


http://www.smh.com.au/national/the-dark-side-of-horse-racing-20140109-30kdw.html http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/sport/local-sport/the-dark-side-of-horse-racing-why-the-race-of-two-melbourne-cup-runners-ended-in-tragedy/news-story/129d38cda7fa365fa5dddf1340b6be53 http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/online-exclusive/behind-the-cage/2015/11/06/the-dark-side-of-horse-racing/

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