Another Melbourne Cup gone, another dead horse … and another year where the carnival hit a record low in attendance.
If you’ve ever wondered if the efforts of animal protection advocates were having any impact, this definitely proves it.
The famous Melbourne Cup Carnival, which comprises of Derby Day, Melbourne Cup Day, Stakes Day and Oaks Day, has slowly but surely seen a decrease in attendance numbers in recent years.
Last year, it reached the lowest since 1999. Melbourne Cup Day itself hit the lowest attendance in 20 years.
And this year, the story was no different. The Melbourne Cup Carnival saw an attendance drop of 7,000 people – as did the Melbourne Cup.
The efforts to draw in new crowds to the Melbourne Cup made no impact. They spent a whopping $125 million on building a new stand to attract racegoers … arguably money which should have been spent on retirement initiatives for the horses they claim to care so much about.
This decline in attendance sits at around 27% since 2006. But you’ll probably work out that it’s no coincidence, since animal protection campaigns targeting the Melbourne Cup commenced just 2 years later in 2008.
Since then, the racing industry has been routinely exposed for its welfare issues: the lack of retirement plan, jumps racing, public floggings with the whip, deaths on track and in slaughterhouses.
Not to mention that horses have been consistently dying in the Melbourne Cup over the past few years, exposing a shocking statistic that this actually happens every 3 days year-round on Australian racetracks.
This year, the atmosphere certainly felt different, with more and more people turning their backs on the ‘sport’. But it wasn’t just a feeling, polling by Essential Media proved it, with 70% of people saying they have low or no interest in horse racing and one in three said they had never been interested in the Melbourne Cup, with 26% saying they had become less interested because of concerns about problem gambling and 29% reporting they had become less interested because of concerns about animal welfare.
With The Cliffsofmoher killed right on the track, a jockey banned for overwhipping, a horse bleeding in the lungs and another bleeding from the nose all at the same meet. – can you really blame the public for turning away in droves (and for keeping #NupToTheCup trending on Twitter for the entire Melbourne Cup Day)?
An industry that once operated without being held to public account, now struggles to maintain its social license. And as concern for animals only becomes more prominent, things will continue to get worse for the racing industry.