I know what I am about to say is an unpopular opinion in Australia and I am just about to be dismissed as a greenie or radical vego or perhaps, “un-Australian” (oh I bloody hate that word.) So watch as I tread lightly so I don’t immediately lose 90% of Australian readers of this article.
But is it just me or are fascinators and fashion at the races this exceptional beauty that bizarrely juxtaposes the actual gore that the races themselves are? Or is it that the high-end quirk of the fashion is there to simply distract from the actual races themselves?
BANG! I knew it. There goes many loyal horse racing fans and lovers of the spring racing (they make the same noise as they click out of my blog page as the gun does when it shoots the poor horses at the races. Sorry, I swear that is my one jab. I swear.)
But hear me out.
And watch as I acknowledge what Australian horse racing DOES do…
It is iconic and brings much publicity from all over the world to Australia. It is a multi-million dollar industry both gambling (not sure if that is a plus or minus?) and also through the thousands it employs. Heck, my husband-to-be actually worked at the races once upon a time. With the money spent on technology and science for the horses to be at their highest potential and in peak health, horse racing has positively benefited the general population of horses that quite possibly without that money spent may not have had such research and veterinary care available. And yes, many of the talented horses are treated like kings and queens (lets not even go into detail about the ones that don’t make it but you can read more about that here.)
So, there is a little balance, huh?
But there is one simple fact that can not be ignored. Horses die in horse racing.
Last year we saw two die from running in the actual Melbourne cup.
Yes, sometimes they all finished the race without worry but the amount that don’t is far too high (127 horses have died in horse racing since last year’s Melbourne Cup) and the only way to avoid this from happening is for horse racing to cease to exist. There is no other way.
Maybe you could argue they “love running” and I have seen wild brumbys so yeah, they seem to get a kick out of it (although they are minus the grown man on their back whipping them.) But there is no possible way for a horse to understand what the risk of running is or consent to doing so.
This is a primitive “sport” and the modern day Colosseum where death is ignored as the socialites socialise, money is splurged and and wine flows. This is the hunger games for horses.
So excuse me when I draw parallels from your photos at the races to this:
Image Source: victorsvillage.com
I know I sound like the bloody fun police but I personally try to live by a general rule: Have as much fun as possible in life without harming anyone or any animal.
It is actually not that restricting, it is pretty broad and actually quite easy to live by. I find if I know someone or some animal has suffered for my enjoyment, I can’t really be happy anyway. But don’t get me wrong, I stuff up all the time and I am FAR from perfect. However, attending the spring racing carnival is an obvious “no-no” to my rule.
And if I had a dollar every time I heard someone tell me, “oh I had such a great day but I didn’t even see a single horse race,” I would have enough money to buy all the horses on the way to the knackery. So it seems slightly odd to me that we have made such an occasion that attracts so many people and glamour when many of the race goers are not in fact mad horse racing enthusiasts. Especially those there for the fashion.
“Well you stupid vego, party-pooper. What do you want us to do? Just get rid of horse racing and lose all those jobs and a whole section of the fashion industry? No suggestions?!”
Hear me out once more.
I do have one tiny suggestion. It is quite dreamy, possibly deluded and very optimistic.
Well here it it: The Stawell Gift.
Have you ever watched the Stawell gift? It is incredible. This year was the first year I went to watch and also the first year that the females had the same prize money winnings as the men’s race (and rightly so as the female race proved more entertaining.)
It still has the handicaps and gambling surrounding it (if that is what is necessary.)
It has the potential to be the race that stops the nation.
It can still be a place for high fashion and socialising like horse racing does, providing people would start making the switch.
Trainers, physiotherapist, hospitality workers, sponsors and television networks could all still function.
Its participants could consent to running in it and the likelihood of anyone needing to be euthanised because they ran would be sitting around the 0% mark.
And in my opinion, it is a much more exciting race.
I know amongst the people of Stawell, they would hate to see their precious Stawell gift taken away but can’t we figure out a “Human Spring Racing Carnival” and Stawell still be part of this?
Yes, I know. All very simplistic of me and dreamy but there is definitely part of a solution in there.
But until something changes, excuse me while I feel uncomfortable and can’t bring myself to “like” your photo of you at the horse races (even if I think you look lovely.) Your fascinator will continue to be a symbol of sadistic commercialism for me.