Why the Melbourne Cup has lost its sheen
IN THE wake of the ABC's recent investigation into the slaughter of retired racehorses at knackeries and abattoirs, the Melbourne Cup has lost its former sheen ... well, at least for this journalist.
As an American expat, I have always been in awe of the race that stops the nation, because there is no single event that can even hold a candle to it in the States, with the exception of maybe the Super Bowl, but you won't find Americans in their most fashionable threads, toasting with champagne to the Super Bowl.
In fact, it's more of a beer and sweats and guacamole in front of the television sort of event - far less sophisticated.
And unlike the Super Bowl, I've always seen the Melbourne Cup as a great equaliser.
A race where everyone was a bit invested, whether it be the office pool, a punt from the field or a serious bet at the TAB.
In my experience everything stops, workmates gather round the television - because like I said, I'm a journalist but I'm also a parent and I can assure you I've never had a Melbourne Cup day off - and everyone cheers for their forecasted champion.
Whether that horse was chosen for its number, clever name, jockey's shirt, randomly from a draw or most rare - educated research, it's always been a day I've looked forward to.
You could count on a roast chicken lunch, champers and camaraderie but this year it feels different.
And it has from the moment the Cliffs of Moher was euthanised right on the track after losing his footing and breaking a shoulder during the 2018 race.
After witnessing that amazingly strong and beautiful animal tumble to its death I realised the genuine danger thoroughbreds are put through so we, as a society, can have a reason to imbibe in too much liquor and enjoy the thrill of a race - well it just felt seedy.
Then fast forward to earlier this past month, when the ABC released graphic footage of the appalling treatment of retired racehorses at the hands of abattoir and knackery employees ... well, that is something you can never unsee.
Has the horseracing industry truly minimised the value of a living beast to solely a commodity?
It saddens me to think of the scores of industry professionals - trainers, jockeys, owners, vets, bookmakers, etc - who would have known this was going on and then turned a blind eye to it. It's shocking, no doubt.
So from now on, you will not see this punter don a ridiculous fascinator, pull a heel out of a grassy field, nor make a tipsy bet on a horse with a silly name.
I'm done - the race that stops a nation will no longer stop me.