5 terrible truths about the Melbourne Cup

melbourne cup

I have been thinking about the Melbourne Cup.

As Marie Kondo says, keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy.

Full disclaimer: we are not certified Konmarie consultants, but the method has some sensible aspects to it.

Investigate, reevaluate, discard.

Furthermore it is worthwhile extending the Kondo premise beyond our stuff. To things like occasions, habits, and friendships. Think routine disruption. Embrace an improvisational mindset.

Do you really need to put up the Christmas tree every year, even if you are going interstate?

Do you have to eat the same thing for breakfast every day?

Think about the things you accept only because of tradition, that you don’t even enjoy. Or worse still, that are actually problematic.

Then extrapolate that out to questionable societal norms. Consuming fast fashion. Flying interstate just for a work meeting (much less likely now, thanks Covid). Getting involved in Twitter pile-ons, walking past homeless people when we actually coulddonate. How is all of this tolerable?

And the Melbourne Cup. I have been guilty of using a laser pointer to make my cat jump up the wall, but the Cup is animal exploitation on a massive scale.

Meanwhile rampant gambling and alcohol consumption are glorified. Behind a posh event with manicured gardens, shiny heels and champagne flutes, lies a sinister truth. Animal cruelty, drunkenness and broken dreams. A wise man once said “The Melbourne cup is for the middle class to dress like they’re upper class and drink like they’re working class”. (the wise man was a stranger on Reddit). Watching weary punters hiccup their way home in bare feet with neckties and hair ties loosened is an amusing sight, yet it masks a sinister reality.

1. Australians lose more money to gambling per capita than any country in the world (average of $1,500 – $2,000 per year per man, woman and child).

2. Horses die on racetracks all the time. During the last racing year, there were 116 horse deaths on Australian racetracks. And it wasn’t pretty, it was an awful mess of tangled limbs and broken bones. Horses also bleed from the lungs from being run too hard, They are drugged up to keep them going when injured and tired. And over 20% of Australian horses are raced with their tongues tied to their lower jaw to improve performance. Ouch.

3. Behind racing, there are a lot of wasted horses. According to the ABC’s 7.30 program, around 300 horses used for racing went through a single abattoir (in Queensland), in just 22 days. The industry is not transparent so exact numbers are unknown. Around a third of the foals born in Victoria never even get on the race track. Horses that don’t immediately show promise are often sent to the abattoir to be slaughtered before a single race.

4. To maximise profit, horses are raced way too young, meaning they are easily injured. Poor babies.

5. Training methods can be cruel. Let’s face it, when money is at stake trainers are tempted to do what it takes to get a winner.

Using animals as entertainment is not okay any more. And to delve a bit deeper, the Melbourne Cup exposes a few of Western culture’s flaws. Wealth inequality, unsustainable consumption, and a disproportionate amount of joy about a  day off. Many of us are unsatisfied in our 9-5 jobs. But we need our jobs to survive. Or at least to to go to events like the Cup. And if we drink and gamble enough, we can forget about our jobs and our existential woes for the day. But I digress.

Just for the record, I have been to the Melbourne Cup, have gambled on a horse, have been very drunk.

But for now, I am saying Nup to the Cup.

But let’s keep the public holiday. Please?

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