MELBOURNE CUP PROTEST
Despite the rain and the wind, activists stood united with the Anti-Speciesist Action Collective to protest the animal abuse taking place at Thoroughbred Park in Canberra. We join the nation-wide protest took place in solidarity with the countless horses used and abused for entertainment all year round.
Spectators flocked to the racecourse, dressed their best to witness the flogging and abuse of horses. At the gates activists confronted the crowd with signs and their united presence. As expected some event day attendees made nervous snide remarks, while others avoided eye contact - a sign of their acknowledgment and shame perhaps? One man stopped and was shocked to hear what happens behind the scenes in this cruel industry, another woman repeated “I’m just going to drink champagne” as if confessing her sins.
Our activist inside witnessed the spectacle: "As I stood in the drizzle watching the horses loaded into the starting gates, I could feel a pit forming in my stomach. I had watched these flighty, unhappy animals paraded around, and now they stood in cages, waiting. For every person thrilled by the spectacle, there were another five on their phones or taking selfies. Indeed, for many of the morning races I was one of the few even watching these beautiful animals pushed to their physical limits for the sake of human greed. Their lathered bodies, foaming mouths, terrified eyes and heavy breathing as they were once again led post-race should be a wake up call to every person in attendance. These are not animals doing what they love. In the stables, the horses waiting to race stood chained by the bridle, some shaking their heads in a futile attempt to rid themselves of this constriction. They are not treated like sentient beings, understandably nervous by the unfamiliar environment. They are instead roughly pulled around by those who view them as mere objects." The power of a protest should not be mistaken.
Cliffsofmoher was killed on course during the “main event” in Melbourne, watched around Australia at every local event. It is only sheer luck that they did not witness the same tragedy in person. We can only hope the messages seen earlier when entering the course remain with the racegoers, and they will be forced to confront what they are participating in. We will continue our campaign to end horse racing in the ACT and hope we can see nationwide elimination of this vile industry. Photographs of protest by the wonderful Reeni Martinez