I’m not going to lie, I have some problems with the horse-racing industry.
I think there are definitely questions that need to be asked about how many horses are bred for racing and what happens to the ones who, inevitably, are going to win nothing. Jumps racing is an abomination and should be banned worldwide NOW. Jockeys need better protection. Horses need better protection from excited crowds. Drugs testing should be improved and ramped up.
But … there is nothing that outrages me more than watching anti-racing fanatics using the still-warm corpses of the two horses on Melbourne Cup Day as a platform for their own political purposes.
There was nothing — NOTHING — about the deaths of Admire Rakti and Araldo that was evenly vaguely related to cruelty.
Araldo’s incident was pure accident, nothing more, nothing less. An excitable, and excited, horse was spooked by an excited human doing something stupid — waving a flag in his face. He kicked out in the wrong place, breaking his hind leg when it went through a fence. Everyone at the race course, and at the equine hospital, did everything they could to not just save his life, but save his leg. He was eventually euthanised, not because it was all too much trouble, but because the life of a horse with a badly broken leg, even if he can ever stand again, is one of pain and disability. THAT would have been cruelty.
As for Admire Rakti … what a bloody tragedy. It’s clear from the preliminary autopsy and chief vet’s report, that he suffered a severe cardiac event — a heart attack, or irregular heartbeat, that he couldn’t recover from. It was completely unpredictable and from what I’ve heard and seen, there was no sign of it beforehand.
These horses are vetted, right up until the morning of the race. And again behind the barriers, they’re being watched pretty closely.
Of course, he was the favourite. Nobody wants to see the favourite scratched. So if there was a pre-race cover-up about the horse’s condition, then of course, yes, that should be investigated and dealt with.
But as far as I could see, as far as the TV experts could see, and as far as the vet behind the barriers could see, Admire Rakti was ears up, on his toes and ready and willing to race.
Human athletes drop dead for no reason. Remember Piermario Morosini? Miklos Feher? Remember Fabrice Muamba? He survived, but it was out of the blue and a damn close thing:
Yes, humans have a choice. But I truly believe racehorses love racing. They’re smart, strong, brave, beautiful creatures and I don’t for one minute think they would go as hard as they do if they didn’t enjoy it.
I was disgusted by the anti-racing lobby on Tuesday and yesterday. They have legitimate arguments to make, and plenty of support, but they did nothing but make themselves look like opportunistic extremists dancing on the graves of two horses who deserved more respect.
Shame on them.
Rest in peace Admire Rakti and Araldo.