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Monday, October 21, 2019

fleeting race horses ~ some experiences !

Bookmakers are wary of a Winx-like betting move for the Chris Waller-trained Arcadia Queen and many are now convinced she will start a clear favourite for The Everest at Randwick on Saturday.  Not here but downunder in Australia.  Arcadia Queen, the winner of six of her seven starts, was $6 after the barrier draw on Tuesday night, where she came up with gate three, and has been supported into as low as $4.20 before settling around the $5 mark. Star sprinter Santa Ana Lane remained the $4.60 favourite with BetEasy on Thursday but was being pushed by Arcadia Queen at $4.80 with Pierata out to $6.

At Thiruvallikkeni Sri Parthasarathi swami temple – in the purappadu – there would be ‘Alwar’ – the majestic elephant, a white horse, a good looking bull – leading the temple procession.  The horse reportedly was retired from racing and donated to temple.

Horse racing, like all sport and entertainment, relies on social approval - what is often referred to as social licence - to thrive and prosper. The casual sports fan, the once-a-year punter, and the regular whose life merged with horses and their history  will turn up on the big race days.  At Guindy there would whiff in the air, crowds – so many, trying to hit a jackpot.  Remember seeing a Muthuraman film, where he would embezzle [take out Rs.10000/-] office cash on a Saturday thinking that he would play horse race, and put back money on Monday – but losing the money and losing life !  ~ had heard of an employee, receiving PF loan for daughter marriage, withdrawing cash, fly to Bangalore, book a star hotel, lose the total money – much to bewilderment of his family !!  ~ there have been many sob stories of punters.   This is no post on race-goer and the plight of their family !

The 7.30 report aired by the ABC on Thursday night has shone a light in some very dark places which those at the top of the industry would rather have stayed hidden from public gaze. The violence that was visited upon former racehorses condemned to a brutal death in slaughter houses was appalling and the work practices there were nothing short of barbaric. Sure, there would be animal activists whose wider agenda would almost certainly be to either ban or severely curtail the racing industry as a whole. But all animal lovers and horse racing fans would also be horrified by the vision. All would demand action. The program uncovered some inconvenient truths that the racing industry must confront. And racing must act for the sake of its own survival.

Subsequently there have been harsh responses.  Racing Victoria  would  audit former racehorses after ABC report into inhumane treatment.  "Wastage" is a word many don't like to hear when the fate of ex-racehorses is brought up, but it is the most accurate description.  The report states that a horse is bought to run, compete and win prize money. If it can't. then. for an owner it becomes a bottomless money pit of training fees, feed and care with no likelihood of a return. Those horses have to go somewhere. And owners and trainers cannot suddenly abrogate responsibility just because their horses can't run fast any more. Many are rehomed and found new vocations. Many end up as family pets, hacks, show jumpers, eventers and the odd one even trains as a police horse.

But, given the current quantity of racing in Australia and the relentless breeding of horses to fill the fields required to fuel betting on each contest, there are always likely to be too many to be rehomed. The reality is that a large number will end up in pet food or slaughtered and exported for animal or human consumption. That in itself is not illegal - as the program pointed out. It is part of the industrial process where all livestock - be it cows, sheep, chickens or pigs - are concerned.  But it is more jarring where racehorses, who have a name, an identity, a character and a public history, are concerned. The ABC report showed racing in a bad light as it is the source of these horses. It showed the slaughterhouse industry in an even worse light because of the cruel and vicious methods employed (at least in those slaughter yards filmed and televised).

But it is racing that will and must cop the criticism and racing that has to find a solution. That may be lessening the number of races run, minimising the number of horses that need to be produced and thus reducing the "wastage". It may now become the industry's responsibility to buy and create huge farms, properly staffed, so that far more horses than at present can be catered for once their days in the sun are over. Racing's image has been tarnished and its authorities have some serious questions on this issue to face up to if they want the sport's social licence to be retained. At the moment, the sport as we know it is in jeopardy. The ABC's 7.30 program aired claims on Thursday night that hundreds, possibly thousands, of healthy Australian racehorses are being sent to slaughterhouses.

Consequently, major sponsors and partners of Australia's largest racing carnivals have put pressure on racing bodies to take action on the "alarming and horrific" footage of abused and slaughtered horses aired on the ABC.  Over the two-year investigation, investigators recorded extensive footage of horses being abused and mistreated prior to slaughter, including profitable racehorses with thousands of dollars in winnings. The revelations come just days before The Everest and the Caulfield Cup, two of Australia's largest racing carnivals, which between them offer nearly $20 million in prize money and attract a raft of prominent sponsors and partners.

For those totally new to punting, horse racing is an equestrian sport generating billions of money.   In 1980s the name in the circuit was Shergar. It won the 1981 Epsom Derby Gold by 10 lengths  - the longest winning margin beating the much touted Glint of  Gold.  Shergar was rode by Walter Swinburn and won Chester vase.  At Irish Derby,  Lester Piggot rode to win with ease.  With six wins, he won £436,000 in prize money.    This acclaimed Irish race horse was the European horse of the year in 1981 and also had the fame of a spot in The  Observer’s 100 most memorable sporting moments of the 20th century.  It was a bay colt with a distinctive white blaze.  It was retired for breeding and on 8th Feb 1983 was stolen from the Stud in Ireland by masked gunmen.  The sad story became the theme for several books, documentaries and a film.   

Interesting !

With regards- S. Sampathkumar
18th Oct 2019.

1 comment:

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