Animal welfare advocates demonstrated outside Myer stores in five states yesterday after Myer, a major sponsor of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival rejected ‘in principal’ to support the trialling of a race without whips.
Led by the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR), the Australia-wide demonstrations aimed to pressure Myer to support improvements to racehorse welfare such as the phasing out of whips.
Demonstration were held in Melbourne: Myer City Store Bourke Street Mall 11.30am; Sydney: Myer City Store Pitt Street Mall 11.30am; Brisbane: Outside Garden City Shopping Centre, Logan Road, Upper Mount Gravatt (near corner Kessels Road) 12.30pm; Hobart: Myer City Store 55 Murray Street 11.30am; Perth: Myer City Store (Forrest Chase entrance) 200 Murray Street 11.30am.
Recently CPR presented Racing Australia with a “Proposal for the phasing out of the Whip in Australian Thoroughbred Racing”. To date Racing Australia have rejected CPR’s recommendations outlined in this proposal.
“We were hoping Myer could be at the forefront of this campaign and take an ethical stance on whip use,” says CPR Campaign Director, Eli Celotto. “Their support could influence positive change in the racing industry.
“Myer has missed the mark.
“Whips are used to urge the horse towards the end of a race when it wants to slow down due to fatigue and sometimes injury. Over-working a horse is the one major cause of injury and premature retirement.
“Eradicating the whip allows horses to run on their own merits, without fear of being beaten ... and give their careers longevity.
“Eradicating the whip will create a level playing field and make it more appealing to the wider community ... something the sport desperately needs.”
Whipping an animal is in breach of the Victorian Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1986). However, the racing industry receives dispensation.
“If you were to whip a horse in a paddock the way that racehorses are routinely whipped, you could be charged with animal cruelty; however, on the racetrack it’s a different story.”
Initial findings from the research carried out by Dr Lydia Tong which featured on Catalyst on March 24 2015 showed that a horse’s epidermis appears to have more pain-sensing nerve endings than humans.
Surely it is now incumbent of the racing industry to support further research.
The demonstrations reflected growing public concern about animal welfare in horse racing. Norway was the first country to ban the whip in 1982. Proponents of the whip argue that it’s necessary to get the best performance out of a horse. However, a new breed of punters and horseracing enthusiasts is emerging that don’t want to see horses suffer pain and psychological trauma.
About the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses
Since 2008, the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR) has been active in raising awareness of animal welfare concerns in the Australian horseracing industry. Areas of focus include whipping, jumps racing, two-year-old racing and wastage (the slaughter of unprofitable racehorses). By championing an ethical stance on animal welfare, CPR aims to bring about positive changes in racehorse welfare.