Jenny - Clean


SADLY, the animal activists who hate horse racing have again had their moment in the sun (perhaps we should say the rain) with another starter losing its life after breaking down in the Melbourne Cup.

This is the one thing that all of those involved at the coalface of the racing industry fear most and so do the punters, even those watching the race that stops the nation through a drunken haze.

The protesters were out in force at one of the big events of Cup week as the photograph, reproduced courtesy of JULIAN SMITH and AAP, illustrates above. It was taken as the Cup parade travelled down Swanston Street in Melbourne last Friday.  

What the Cup day protesters have no intention of understanding is that fatalities happen in horse racing, just as they do on our roads. Despite what they may preach it can be unavoidable but racing in Australia is subjected to some of the strictest integrity and safety standards in the world. As hard as we try, this is a sport where tragedy is bound to happen and will continue to happen.

Banning horse racing or stealing headlines with outrageous protests of animal cruelty every time a horse suffers a horrific injury in a big race is not the answer. Whether the protesters like it or not, the Cup will be run again next year and every year after that – hopefully free of the unavoidable incidents like that which sadly claimed the life of The Cliffsofmoher at Flemington on Tuesday.

No-one was to blame for the injury suffered by this beautiful animal which saw him humanely euthanized after fracturing a shoulder soon after the start of the Cup. For millionaire owner Lloyd Williams and his son Nick, who only a year earlier were celebrating victory in the big race with Rekindling, the highs and lows of racing could not have been more evident.

Vets attended to the horse on the track but he could not be saved. The animal activists quickly reminded us through a mainstream media prepared to give them a platform to air their ugly protests that this was third time in five years that the Melbourne Cup had been marred by a horse’s death.

Now they are saying it’s time to stop the race that stops the nation. Good luck to them there. Their publicity machine was in overdrive within minutes of the death of The Cliffsofmoher with the cliam that: Every three days a horse is killed on an Australian racetrack.

Welfare in the three codes – gallops, harness and greyhound racing – has never been under the microscope more. There will always be an unscrupulous minority that  attempt to gain an edge with illegal practices and drug usage on horses but while integrity bodies and the majority of their fellow licensees want to see them hunted out of the industry forever, they are too often saved by smart and expensive lawyers who find loopholes in the Rules of Racing or convince courts that their clients are being denied natural justice. Instead of protesting at the tracks these animal activists should be outside court hearings and at the stables of those trainers with apparent unlimited funds to fight the system. Sadly the protesters don’t know the intricacies of racing nor, one suspects, do they care.

They don’t understand that for safety reasons jockeys need to carry whips (particularly on young horses) and are already limited in the usage of same. They also don’t understand that if there was no jumps racing then the majority of those horses that now compete would be condemned to the knackery or live out their lives in paddocks with little feed, cover or water – a cruel fate that they refuse to comment on. They are also ignorant of the hundreds of thousands who rely on racing for their livelihood, the worth of the thoroughbred industry to the country and the tourism value of our big racing carnivals.

When it comes to the animal liberationists why are their protests directed almost solely at horse racing? What about cruel sports, especially overseas, like bull fighting, cock fighting, dog fighting, live hare coursing, fox hunting, or the circuses and bear shows where animals from the wild are kept in captivity.

It seems horse racing, greyhound racing and rodeos are easier targets for these protesters. Is it little wonder that instead of getting their message across many are now being labelled fruit loops?

Ironically, the animal protesters and the racing industry participants are on the same page when it comes to the welfare of thoroughbred horses. They just go about their business of trying to make racing safer in different ways.



THIS was an interesting email we received from DAVID PHELPS of MELBOURNE in the wake of the latest call by animal liberationists for horse racing to be banned:

‘HOW many of these protesters would know the ridiculous rules that the authorities have been forced to implement when it comes to the use of whips in races?

The answer to that is probably very few despite the fact it has been a knee-jerk reaction from the control bodies of horse racing in this country to the publicity machine of the animal liberation movement.

Just take a look at the first two days of the Cup carnival at Flemington. Ben Melham, who rode Star of Carrum, runner-up in last Saturday’s Victoria Derby, was suspended and fined missing important mounts on Oaks and Stakes day.

Hugh Bowman, rider of Marmelo, runner-up in the Cup, suffered an eight-meeting suspension for his whip use (he will actually be sidelined for a month over the ride following careless riding and overweight charges as well).

In the eyes of some Robert Cram and his panel were headline-hunting at their first Cup carnival since the departure of former Chief Steward Terry Bailey for Singapore. Melham is a regular and easy target and one could argue that they went over the top with Bowman who must rate a terrific chance of having his penalties reduced on appeal.

But back to my original point and on the first two days of the Flemington carnival there was plenty more revenue raising (around $6,000 in fact) from whip usage fines with Kerrin McEvoy ($3,000 on the Cup winner Cross Counter), Michael Walker (A Prince of Arran), Regal Bayliss (Nakeeta), Dwayne Dunn (Sir Charles Road, Damian Lane (Zacada) all fined over their Cup rides and James McDonald also fined when he ran second on Le Romain in the Group 1 Kennedy Mile on Saturday.

One could question if stewards are focusing too much on whip usage and not enough on other issues. Whatever, it is all the result of an attempt to appease the protest movement who won’t be happy until they bring racing to a standstill. Hopefully, that will never happen.’



BOB WONDERS of SYDNEY who provided that thought-provoking WHINGE that prompted plenty of comment last week, has backed up with this little gem:

‘REMEMBER the high profile stewards’ panel who told Kerrin McEvoy when he returned from a successful overseas stint that he needed to adapt more to the Australian riding conditions.

That could have been interpreted as ‘he wasn’t up to the standard of the top jockeys Down Under’ at the time. There were occasions when he seemed to get caught napping, or blocked on the fence, but those who have followed Sydney racing closely had another theory for what was happening to McEvoy back then.

Could it have been that Kerrin, after riding several big winners in Europe for the powerful Godolphin stable, didn’t have the ‘welcome home’ mat rolled out because there were rumors that Sydney was a ‘boys club’ at the time and they didn’t want someone of his ability rocking the boat.

That could best be described as racetrack gossip and had it been the case the stewards of the day were the heavy-hitters of the racing police in this country and they would never have allowed that to happen. They obviously genuinely believed that after years in Europe, McEvoy needed to adapt his riding style more to the Australian conditions.

Kerrin might have battled for a time but once he hit his straps there was no looking back and those who weren’t around can’t even believe he could possibly have been under the microscope back then.

Two Everests and a couple of Melbourne Cups on the mantle-piece and McEvoy is now at the top of the riding tree in this country and still in demand to ride for the powerful Godolphin organization whenever they bring horses Down Under.

It is fitting that The Sheik’s first Melbourne Cup winner – after all those elusive attempts to win the big race – would be ridden by McEvoy in such amazing circumstances as occurred at Flemington on Tuesday when Cross Counter came from near last to score an amazing success.’  




There was a touch of déjà vu to what he wrote in the days leading up to the Melbourne Cup that saw CROSS COUNTER end the MELBOURNE CUP drought for one of the world’s wealthiest owners, GODOLPHIN, the racing empire run by SHEIKH MOHAMMED BIN RASHID AL MAKTOUM, the RULER of DUBAI.

Here’s what Sam Duncan wrote, courtesy of FAIRFAX MEDIA:

THE Melbourne Cup has lost its common touch.

It was created way back in 1861 in the image of Australia’s egalitarian values. The design of the race is characterized by the notion of a fair go. It’s a handicap race - the best horses carry the most weight to level the playing field. This supposedly gives all horses a fair go. It’s all about equal opportunity.

As Australian historian John O’Hara puts it, “The real importance of the Melbourne Cup is to be found in what it symbolizes. The inherent uncertainty of the race and its promotion of the concept of equality of opportunity symbolized colonial Australia.”

But let’s be honest, the race is no longer a representation of Australian egalitarianism. It’s now a reflection of a new world of globalization and the business of sport.

It’s now what rich elites do for fun, leaving the Aussie battler with just two chances - Buckley’s and none. Perhaps that’s the way it’s always been. After all, it’s referred to as the “sport of kings” for a reason.

The evidence of this is overwhelming. Last year’s Cup winner, Rekindling, was trained by a 24-year-old Irishman, Joseph O’Brien, and owned by an Australian millionaire, Lloyd Williams.

Williams has something of an obsession with the Melbourne Cup and scours the world for the best stayers to compete in Australia’s mighty race. Whatever he’s doing is working. Williams has now won six Melbourne Cups and has another favourite, Yucatan, in this year’s race.

His fifth victory in 2016 nudged him in front of billionaire Malaysian entrepreneur Dato Tan Chin Nam, who won four Melbourne Cups, all trained by the legendary Bart Cummings.

Chin Nam’s best chance of a fifth Cup came in 2010 with his duel Cox Plate winner, So You Think. However, it was not to be as French-trained, American-bred stallion Americain stormed home to win. Americain was owned by Jayco caravans magnate Gerry Ryan and Melbourne entrepreneur Kevin Bamford.

Other rich winners include Sheikh Fahad Al-Thani, who won the 2011 Melbourne Cup with Dunaden. Sheikh Fahad is a member of the ruling Qatari royal family and worth billions.

Cummings, who won the Cup 12 times for millionaires and battlers, never really embraced the internationalization. He feared the international raiders took the place of hard-working Aussie horses, trainers and owners who support the Australian industry week in, week out. He wanted a cap on how many overseas horses were allowed in.

His grandson, James, is now the Australian trainer of one of the world’s biggest and richest worldwide stables, Godolphin. It’s owned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai.

Godolphin hasn’t won the Melbourne Cup yet, but it’s back this year with the Cummings-trained Avilius and two highly fancied international horses, Caulfield Cup winner Best Solution and Cross Counter. Then there’s British billionaire Marwan Koukash, who has boldly claimed he’ll strip down to his underwear if his horse, Magic Circle, wins the Cup on Tuesday.

A total of eight of the top 10 horses in early betting are prepared by European-based trainers. They’re here for the prestige but, make no mistake, they’re also here for the money, which has grown to a record $7.3 million this year. The winner alone will take home $4 million.

So it seems winning the Cup is now reserved for a select, privileged, wealthy few. This is not a strange anomaly, unique to the Melbourne Cup, or horse racing for that matter. Rather, it’s a sign of the times.

Popular sport in any era reflects the society in which it exists. We were once egalitarian and equal. In many respects, we still are. But in today’s global and commercial world, sport is business and money talks.

So to find the winner, your best bet may well be to do away with studying the horses and instead inspect the wealth of the rich and famous owners.

They spend money to win. And in the Melbourne Cup, at least in recent history, they usually do.

That’s now the world we live in.

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