7 Horse Racing Facts That Will Change How You Feel About Melbourne Cup Forever

Horse racing struggles to maintain relevance throughout the year. Some people don’t even realise it runs outside of Spring. If you enjoy a flutter and a drink or two at the races, these hidden facts will make you reconsider.

1. Thousands of failed racehorses are slaughtered each year
Nothing says “we love our horses” like sending thousands of them to slaughter every year, right? While you’ll be hard-pressed to find a Melbourne Cup winner at your local knackery or slaughterhouse, there are 13,000 racehorses exiting the racing industry every year… And the majority of them aren’t the winners you see on the TV or in the newspaper during Spring Carnival.

In Australia there are dozens of knackeries that process failed and former racehorses for pet food, as well as two abattoirs that kill horses for human consumption in South Australia and Queensland. Some of their ‘horse steaks’ are served in a select few Melbourne restaurants, but the majority are exported to European countries like Belgium and France.

2. Racehorses die on the track … regularly
Unless you live ~under a rock~ you will have heard about the four Melbourne Cup deaths in recent years. The industry would have you believe these are ‘freak accidents’ and ‘rarely occur’, right? Wrong.

One racehorse dies every 2.6 days in Australia. And 137 racehorses have died since last year’s Melbourne Cup. They most commonly suffer catastrophic limb injuries, cardiac arrests and massive bleeds causing them to collapse and die. We compile them all in our deathwatch report, which you can read here.

3. Studies have shown whips hurt
Whipping = one of the most public displays of animal cruelty.

While the RSPCA would be quick to charge you for whipping your dog, cat or rabbit – whipping in horse racing is exempt from this rule, even normalised and celebrated, despite the fact studies have shown whips hurt racehorses.

4. Jumps racing is 20 times more dangerous than flat racing
Jumping. While. Racing. It’s as ridiculous as it sounds.

While there are no jumps races at official Spring Carnival events anymore, they do run throughout the season. Jumps racing is 20 times more dangerous than flat racing and kills multiple horses every single year when they fall on their heads and necks, or break their limbs.

Paying for a ticket to the races supports this.

5. Less ‘valuable’ foals are discarded
‘Nanny’ mares are kept in foal in order to have a milk supply, and when a prized broodmare dies giving birth to a thoroughbred foal, the nanny mare will step in to raise the thoroughbred ‘foster’ foal, and their own biological foal is discarded.

They are the bobby calves of the racing industry. And it’s a practice barely spoken about, but you can read the story of one lucky survivor here.

6. Some participants use drugs
With so much money at stake in horse racing, it’s no wonder that some owners and trainers resort to using drugs on their racehorses.

The cobalt saga involving numerous high profile trainers is just one example of using stimulants to push horses beyond their physical capabilities.

7. Horses are raced before their bodies are mature enough
A famous trainer once said “Two year olds, as we know, can be here today and gone tomorrow.”

It’s the perfect way to sum up 2-year-old racing. What good can come of racing young horses well before they are skeletally mature? And who would want to support that?

Instead of going to the races, on Melbourne Cup Day take part in something to help racehorses. Find out how here.

5 Reasons To Avoid The Races This Spring Season

Going to the races might seem like harmless fun. But hidden behind the glitz of racing are hundreds of dead racehorses.  This is the story of just 5 of them.

‘Almoonqith’ – Sydney Cup tragedy
Almoonqith was a 7-year-old gelding, who started his racing career as 2-year-old in America.

After being brought to Australia, he ran a very successful racing career, making almost $1million in prize money.

However, on 8 April 2017, Almoonqith broke his off-hind cannon bone while running in the prestigious Sydney Cup, and was killed right there on the track.

‘Harmonic Lass’ – raced as a baby
Harmonic Lass was a 2-year-old filly running in the Wellington Boot. It was just her third time on a racetrack.

During the race, she fractured her near fore fetlock and was killed. Unlike more prestigious racehorses, her death was not spoken about as she had only made around $4,000.

Her story highlights a huge welfare concern in the Australian racing industry – racing horses at just 2 years old.

Putting young, underdeveloped racehorses on the racetrack is absolutely culpable. And if they do not suffer catastrophic injuries at a young age, it still pre-disposes them to cumulative injury further on down the track.

‘Finke’ – literally bleeding to death
Finke was a 5-year-old gelding who had been racing since 2 years old. After a relatively successful racing career, making over $300,000 in prize money, his life abruptly ended at Morphettville on 25 Feb 2017.

Finke pulled up from his race distressed, and collapsed in the mounting yard. A necropsy found that he had ruptured his aorta – suffering a massive internal bleed.

‘Wheeler Fortune’ – the face of jumps racing cruelty
The annual Oakbank Carnival is renowned for it’s cruel jumps races – which regularly result in the deaths of horses. This year was no exception – with Wheeler Fortune falling over the final hurdle right in front of a crowd of racegoers, including young children.

A photo of him standing with a dangling front leg injury (which was reported to be a break to his near fore cannon bone) shaped the image of the rest of the Easter Carnival, and once again renewed calls for the ‘sport’, which is 20 times more dangerous than flat racing, to be banned.

Wheeler Fortune had race as a 2-year-old, and was brought to Australia from New Zealand.

‘I’m Captain Oats’ – never made a race
If I’m Captain Oats had have died in any state but New South Wales, we would have never known about his death.

The 2-year-old colt died while in trackwork on Hawkesbury racetrack, suffering a comminuted fracture to his off fore metacarpus (a catastrophic front limb injury).

New South Wales is the only state in the country that reports deaths in training and trackwork in their stewards reports. If I’m Captain Oats had have been training anywhere else, his fate would not be public knowledge. Presumably, this is the case for many other racehorses dying outside of official races in every other state.

‘Surface To Air’ – first and last jumps race
Surface To Air had never run in a jumps race before, and his first try was his last.

The 5-year-old gelding commenced his racing career in New Zealand, and after coming to Australia for a short stint in flat racing, he was moved into a jumps career.

However, during his first ever jumps race at Murray Bridge, he fractured his fetlock and was killed on the track. His death highlights a combination that can never be made safe – jumping and racing.

Glamorous, right?

These horses are just 5 of 137 racehorses who have died on Australian racetracks since the 2016 Melbourne Cup. And they are five good reasons to never place a bet again.

Wondering what you can do on Melbourne Cup Day without funding this cruelty? We’ve got you covered.