Stop flogging tired horses – it’s time for whip-free racing
Yesterday's tragic incidents highlight the inherent welfare issues associated with a sport that pushes horses to their absolute physical limits, all in the name of gambling and entertainment.
"While racegoers were enjoying the spectacle that is Cup Day, for the horses, the sound dominating the last stages of every race was not the cheering of the crowd but the persistent whack, whack, whack of whips on flesh," said Heather Neil, CEO of RSPCA Australia.
"Punters expect to see the horse they bet on to be "ridden out", and jockeys show this by literally flogging a tired animal – it's time for this to stop.
"There is extensive research indicating that whipping horses doesn't make them go any faster, and let's face it, if whips were not used there would still be a winner at the end of the race," said Ms Neil.
The RSPCA is calling for the Australian Racing Board to immediately undertake a review into current whip rules and introduce whip-free races.
"We'd like to see whip-free racing as the norm by Melbourne Cup 2015 – an entire year is surely plenty of time for this important change to be introduced.
"If anyone suggests repeated whipping does not hurt horses, they should try it on themselves.
"No longer should we allow the starry-eyed glorification of the Melbourne Cup to outshine the importance of protecting the welfare of the horse: whips must be scratched," said Ms Neil.