Archive for Melbourne Cup

Is The Whip Barbaric and Unnecessary?

This week’s LET IT RIDE.COM HOT TOPIC comes from Rex Jory of AdelaideNow…take a read and VOICE AN OPINION!

It’s time to phase out the barbaric use of whips in horse racing

THE use of whips should be quietly phased out of Australian horse racing.

Cracking a horse with a whip is, by definition, painful – although I don’t subscribe to the view of some extremists that it is barbaric or unnecessarily cruel.

Whipping gives thoroughbred racing a bad image.

I class myself as a casual race follower.

Like so many, my flower of interest blooms during the Victorian Spring carnival.

Slow motion cameras make it impossible to ignore the use of whips in racing.

The television images of winning Melbourne Cup jockey, Brett Prebble, urging his mount, Green Moon, to the finishing line last Tuesday were superb.

Prebble gave Green Moon a couple of hefty clouts to the rump with his whip in the last 200m.

Then we saw his dancing fingers cleverly change the grip on the whip as he crossed the line.

What concerned me was not the mere act of smacking a magnificent animal.

It was the perception the action had on the television audience.

Many people watching the Melbourne Cup on television are novices to racing.

They rarely, if ever, attend a race meeting and probably don’t have 10 bets a year. Some will be young. Children watch the Melbourne Cup.

A small number, at least, could be seduced by the excitement and romance of racing.

They are a potential audience, part of the future of racing.

But it’s worth pondering how many will be put off by the ugly images of horses being flogged by whips?

What was acceptable, even condoned, 20 or 30 years ago is not necessarily acceptable today.

If someone flogged a dog in the same way jockeys whip horses they would be prosecuted.

Presumably jockeys whip horses to make them go faster. Horses run faster because the whip stings.

If whipping horses doesn’t hurt, then why do it?

There are very few sports or entertainments other than horse racing and horse eventing where animals are any longer deliberately beaten for pleasure or benefit.

Dignified society no longer tolerates standing bears on hot metal plates to make them “dance”.

Nor does it allow bears to fight dogs in pits, dog or cock fighting, live-hare coursing or fox hunting, to name a few of the crueller pastimes.

Circuses are now under increasing pressure to dispense with live animals acts including lions and elephants and zoos have become the source of breeding programs to save endangered species rather than being just an opportunity to gawk at caged animals.

To be fair to the Australian Racing Board and the broader industry, strict controls on the use of whips were introduced in August, 2009.

Padded whips are now mandatory, the whipping arm cannot be raised above the shoulder, whips should not be used if there is no prospect of improving a horse’s placing, and a whip cannot be used more than five times before the 200m mark and after that point not in consecutive strides.

Announcing the restrictions, the then-chairman of the Australian Racing Board, Bob Bentley, said: “The best scientific advice available to us says that padded whips do not inflict pain or injury and that is the outcome we want.”

So why does the racing industry persist with the use of whips?

If whipping doesn’t hurt then presumably it does not affect the performance of a horse.

A survey by the RSPCA found that a whip caused a “visual indentation” on the horse in 83 per cent of impacts, the unpadded section of the whip made contact in 64 per cent of impacts, and more than 75 per cent of the time when used the whip struck the horse in the abdomen, not the rump.

Whipping horses may be part of the romance and tradition of horse racing. But it can no longer be justified in 2012.

Whips should be phased out of horse racing in Australia and the sooner the better.

WHAT’S YOUR TAKE?

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Aussie Journo on American Racing: “attracts desperates and crooks”, “grubby sport”, “a farce”!

This week’s LET IT RIDE.COM HOT TOPIC comes from Matt Stewart of Melbourne Herald-Sun…take a read and VOICE AN OPINION!

HORSEPOWER THE LIFE OF THE PARTY

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – In Friday’s (Melbourne) Herald Sun there was a full-page ad of the like rarely, if ever, conjured up by the racing industry and presented in the nation’s biggest-selling daily newspaper.

Paid for by Racing Victoria, it promoted the first clash of sprint superstars Black Caviar and Hay List in the Patinack Farm Classic, run the next day.

It was a simple ad without fluff; just two horses facing off, their race records underneath and a banner that promised something raw and enthralling, a “Heavyweight Showdown”.

It did not require any other sexy elements to lure us through the gate; no popping champagne corks, no beautiful young people or a rock band after the last.

More than 77,000 people attended the final day of the four-day carnival, attracted, of course, by the usual party elements but also by the most simple and time-tested calling card racing has; the horse.

The horse, as opposed to horsing around, has been the successful theme of this spring carnival and racing has surely made some important inroads back into the hearts and minds of the wider community.

On Cox Plate day the mums, dads and kids swelled eight and 10-deep around So You Think’s stall an hour before the Cox Plate. They “ooohed” and “ahhed” at the horse’s beauty as they would at an animal at the zoo.

They were intoxicated by him, by his simplicity.

First timers who were there will return to the racetrack, knowing that amid the drunks and punters there are magnificent animals at the races, too.

Briefly, So You Think took the whole nation for an emotional ride.

Even non-racing types are captivated by a horse who is beautiful and unstoppable.

We saw that at Churchill Downs in Kentucky yesterday.

The Yanks couldn’t give two hoots about horse racing; to them it’s a grubby sport that attracts desperates and crooks and is conducted almost in secret, underground.

But the Yanks love a good story, even one that occurs on a racetrack.

As Zenyatta paraded and pawed the ground in her purple rug before her bid to win her 20th straight race, an entourage followed and a mob converged. Cameras flashed. For a few minutes, Zenyatta was an American superstar.

Back here So You Think has been that superstar, first for his quest to defy all sorts of historical hurdles to win the Melbourne Cup – before failing, bravely – then as a heart-breaker after his shock sale to Ireland’s all-consuming Coolmore Stud.

Rarely has Joe Public become so absorbed, so emotional, about the sale of a racehorse.

Fast colts with good pedigrees are bought and sold all the time. The Arab and Irish billionaires make irresistible offers and pluck the best from all parts of the globe so they can pit their poached horses against each other on the racetracks of Dubai, Europe and America.

This is the way of the racing world, a fact many of us only half accept.

There were two overwhelming sentiments after So You Think was sold to Ireland – parochialism and disappointment.

Bart Cumming’s devastated foreman Reg Fleming summed up the parochial sentiment when he asked: “What makes their racing better than ours anyway?”

Peter Moody joined in after Black Caviar won on Saturday. “Why don’t they come to us?” he asked.

They both have a point.

Yesterday’s Breeders Cup extravaganza in Kentucky was allegedly world racing’s biggest deal. Coolmore and Darley poach horses with an ultimate eye to the Breeders, Royal Ascot and Dubai.

The Breeders Cup was run over two days and the temperature was about 8C. Two horses were put down after failing to handle the tight track. One favourite was declared unfit to run by its trainer in a pre-race interview, but started anyway and was pulled out of the race by its jockey.

Punters, already freezing, did their money cold. Two jockeys had a punch-up, one champion, Workforce, was scratched, his connections too scared to run on the track.

This farce, compared with the wonder of Flemington through Cup Week.

As Fleming said, 100,000 people lifted the roof when So You Think hit the front at the 200m in the Cup. That responsibility, inspiring 100,000 fans to lift the roof, now sits on the shoulders of Black Caviar.

The Cup Week crowds will not return for another year but while the party has moved on, the horse is a constant.

The summer and autumn will be a ghost town compared with what we’ve just seen, but the horse is back as a magnet and none will have the pulling power of the mighty Black Caviar come Flemington in February.

WHAT’S YOUR TAKE?

Best Trainer Ever – 263 Gr1 Wins??? Best Horse Ever – wins two Cox Plates in first 10 starts???…Head to Melbourne Cup!

This week’s LET IT RIDE.COM HOT TOPIC comes from Michael Manley and Tim Habel of Melbourne Herald-Sun…take a read and VOICE AN OPINION!

BART CUMMINGS EYES MELBOURNE CUP WITH ‘SO YOU THINK’ AFTER DOMINANT COX PLATE VICTORY

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Racing Victoria Limited chief handicapper Greg Carpenter described So You Think as the “horse of the generation” following his emphatic Cox Plate win, which triggered bookmakers to promote Bart Cummings’ superstar to a clear Melbourne Cup favourite.

And, given the hype behind So You Think, plus the Cummings factor, bookmakers are bracing for the dual Cox Plate winner to be the hottest Cup favourite in almost 40 years.

Tab Sportsbet installed So You Think as $3.20 favourite for the $6 million Emirates Melbourne Cup.

New Zealander Veandercross started $3.20 favourite when second behind Subzero in the 1992 Melbourne Cup, while Gay Icarus, in 1971, was the shortest priced modern day Cup favourite at $2.75.

Cummings sounded an ominous warning about So You Think providing him with a 13th Melbourne Cup when he declared: “He’s getting fitter and he’s getting better.”

Asked if it was a concern So You Think, who has never raced beyond the Cox Plate distance of 2040m, backing up from the Mackinnon Stakes to the Melbourne Cup, Cummings shook his head and said: “Not the way we feed them”. When it was noted that So You Think had not run over his designated 10,000m before the Melbourne Cup, Cummings replied: “How short is he?”

Told that So You Think would be 760m shy if he raced in the Mackinnon, Cummings said: “He’s good enough to overcome it.”

The 83-year-old trainer posted Group I win No.263 on Saturday when So You Think lived up to his superstar rating to crush his rivals in the $3 million Tatts Cox Plate over 2040m.

The standing ovation from the rapturous Moonee Valley crowd was as much in reverence for Cummings as his great galloper.

While many mused So You Think was one of the all-time great Cox Plate winners, Cummings wasn’t even into comparisons with his own previous four winners or past greats. “It would be degrading to them,” he said.

Suffice to say, So You Think is fast making ground on Saintly, the “horse from heaven” that he bred and trained to win the Cox Plate-Melbourne Cup double in 1996.

Cummings said if So You Think was to attempt to win the 150th Melbourne Cup he would run in the Group I Mackinnon Stakes on Saturday.

“It will relax him. He needs a look at Flemington, the last time he was there (Glen) Boss went berserk on him,” he said.

Cummings was referring to the Emirates Stakes last spring when Boss led on So You Think before finishing second to All American.

Meanwhile, Carpenter said So You Think had eclipsed, in his mind, another dual Cox Plate winner Northerly and Makybe Diva as the best Cox Plate winner he’d seen.

“Everyone knows I was a wonderful fan of Northerly and I don’t like comparing champions, (but) he deserves to be put in absolute elite company,” Carpenter said.

“He’s the horse of the generation. (The) second and third horses were really brave, but he put the race beyond doubt and they made up late ground.”

WHAT’S YOUR TAKE?