People at the Melbourne Cup parade got up close with the trophy as it was taken along the parade route today. (ABC News: Dylan Anderson)
Footage of racehorses being abused and slaughtered ‘will shake the industry to its core’
Whips could disappear completely from horseracing in the next decade if public backlash to the sport continues, according to the head of Racing Victoria.
- Giles Thompson said whips were not a welfare issue but were a “perception problem”
- He said the racing industry would recover after footage of mistreatment was aired on 7.30
- It comes as thousands of fans and a smaller group of activists lined the streets for the Melbourne Cup parade
Chief executive Giles Thompson told the ABC whips could be banned from racing, predicting they would no longer feature in 10 to 15 years due to the public’s perception.
“It’s not a welfare issue but there is a perception problem and it’s a question for the racing industry, probably globally, how long can it withstand the perception problem that the whip provides,” Mr Thompson told RN Breakfast.
“And I spin out 10 or 15 years and I don’t see it.”
Protesters lined the parade route welcoming the stars with chants such as “jockeys choose, horses don’t”. (ABC News: Dylan Anderson)
Despite the design of whips changing over the years for welfare reasons, Mr Thompson said the general public would demand they were no longer used.
“The whip has evolved so dramatically over the past few years that it’s padded and allowed to be used,” he said.
“That’s the debate we’re having internally in racing, it’s a key perception issue, you can see it visibly on the television.”
Mr Thompson said he believed the racing industry and the Melbourne Cup would bounce back from public backlash after the ABC’s 7.30 report on thoroughbred racehorses being sent to abattoirs and knackeries in New South Wales and Queensland.
“For something as special as the Melbourne Cup, not just to those in Melbourne but right across Australasia, is something that will stand up to this challenge,” Mr Thompson said.
However, he insisted change was crucial if the industry was to regain the public’s trust.
“I think what we saw a couple of weeks ago was shocking, not just to those outside racing,” he said.
“It was shocking to those inside racing and what that enables us to do is really garner the support of the racing community to tackle this challenge.”
Protesters heckled but were drowned out by the official speeches at Federation Square. (ABC News: Dylan Anderson)
The backlash over animal welfare concerns continued to be felt on Monday, as almost 200 protesters gathered at the end of the annual Melbourne Cup parade.
A procession of thoroughbreds, jockeys and trainers headed down Swanston Street to Federation Square a day ahead of the big race at Flemington.
Kristin Leigh from the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses said she was pleased so many protesters turned up.
Parade spectators braved the rain to catch a glimpse of racing royalty. (ABC News: Dylan Anderson)
“People around the country are really horrified with what’s going on now that they’ve seen the truth, so they’re speaking up which is fantastic,” she said.
“There will be rallies happening all over the country tomorrow … we would like to see the whip banned but we would like to see horseracing end ultimately.”
Despite the recent backlash to the sport and wet weather, thousands of fans stood drenched along Melbourne streets for a look at the jockeys and trainers who would compete in the race that stops the nation on Tuesday.
Moree Southwell and Evelyn Talbot travelled from Tamworth, Queensland on a cruise ship to Melbourne for the Melbourne Cup.
Ms Talbot said she was racing fan but was disappointed about the welfare issues that had surfaced.
“My family had race horses for a long time. It’s a shame. If they are being mistreated something needs to be done about it,” she said.