Racing Victoria has spent this week raving about ‘Here for the Horses’, a Channel 7 puff piece being framed as a documentary. We can only apologise to every sorry sod who had to sit through this excruciating 51 minutes – an insult to the intelligence of us all.
Conveniently timed to go to air in the lead up to the most controversial day on the racing calendar, The Melbourne Cup, ‘Here for the Horses’ provides a narrow view of the racing industry, coming only from a select few of those within. There is no delving into the issues that have long plagued the industry and no balance. The “documentary” provides not a single comment from an anti-racing campaigner, an uncompromised veterinarian, behavioural expert or even the most conservative of animal welfare advocates.
Presumably funded by Racing Victoria, ‘Here for the Horses’ focuses in on and exacerbates the miniscule positive changes industry participants claim have been made, whilst entirely ignoring the horrific and systemic cruelty, abuse and suffering that remains for the majority of these horses from birth to death.
New Racing Victoria CEO Andrew Jones, using the single ex racing horse he and his wife love is some kind of bizarre attempt to prove thousands of others have the same outcome.
Equally, showcasing the few horses who end up in equine therapy each year without talking about where the remainder of the 13,000 exiting racing and breeding go is embarrassing at best. As is talking up new pre-race screening measures to prevent horse deaths on track whilst failing to acknowledge that such measures only exist in the highest of high-profile races during the Spring Racing Carnival – meanwhile horses are started in races almost 180,000 times across the country each year with no improved screening whatsoever.
The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses, Deathwatch 2022 Report is days away from being published. In contrast to ‘Here for the Horses’ it is based on facts, and its statistics demonstrate the number of horses injured and dying on track remain as bad as ever.
Confinement, isolation, the inability to socialise and graze with a herd, the breaking of spirit, pain and fear inflicting instruments of control, and learned helplessness are also overlooked. The puff piece proves it is business as usual at Racing HQ, where maintaining the façade of being ‘here for the horses’ trumps dealing with even the worst aspects of horse racing’s cold, harsh reality.
The industry’s inability to look at itself and present itself honestly, is ironically the very reason this puff piece had to be produced, yet still, the same ignorance, denial and selective story telling remains.
Industry participants who feature make it clear they believe a horse is of no purpose unless providing something for the human – an ignorant position that assumes horses have no intrinsic value and exist solely to serve our needs. This flawed belief goes to the very heart of why horses do and will continue to suffer across the board.
‘Here for the Horses’ makes one thing very clear – the racing industry is determined to continue with the same old ways, in a world that is ever increasingly becoming one in which maintaining the status quo simply no longer cuts it.
‘Here for the Horses’ provides a false narrative which aims to convince the viewer that all has been fixed and racing is now a kind ‘sport’, managed by those who have the horses’ best interests above all else. The only question that remains is whether people are stupid enough to keep on buying it. We think not.