The century-and-a-half-old Melbourne Cup in Australia is one of international racing’s biggest days. It is, they say, “the race that stops the nation.” Not so much in recent years, however.
In 2019 (the last pre-covid year), attendance was 81,408, down from 2018’s 83,471 – and down some 20,000 from just four years prior. In fact, the 2019 total was the lowest since 1995. Ahead of this year’s edition, The Guardian sought insight from Dr. Katie Greenaway, psychology professor at the University of Melbourne. She says the Cup has “become controversial, associated with things people don’t want to be associated with, like animal cruelty, gambling problems and wealth disparity.” In fact, recent polling, says the article, found that 59% of those surveyed think horseracing is cruel.
This progress is directly attributable to our international partner, The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR), founded in 2008 by Elio Celotto. In an interview with Yahoo Sports, Elio says the Cup is “now a race that divides a nation. What was once intrinsically part of our culture is now a day many people have turned away from. Looking at ourselves and deciding that perhaps part of what we used to do no longer fits is a good sign of an evolving society.
“The Melbourne Cup and horse racing in general will never again enjoy the glamorous image it used to have because the reality for the horses is that it is exploitative, cruel and an outdated form of entertainment that no longer has a place in our society.”
CPR began its hugely successful “Nup to the Cup” campaign in 2010. The Nup events, says Elio, “give people who genuinely care about animals a viable alternative to celebrating what is fundamentally animal cruelty. People want to have a good time and this is a way we can all have a good time but not at the expense of animals.” CPR’s Nup events raise money for animal charities, as opposed to a cruel, deadly industry.
Elio’s message to people who still support the Cup (and horseracing):
“We would like everyone to consider the reality of what they are supporting. It’s not just harmless fun. For the horses, it’s their well-being and their lives. Some people just don’t care about animals but for those that do, we would like them to consider what they are really supporting by attending a racing event. If you do really care about animals, you shouldn’t be going to the races. It’s as simple as that.”
Hear, hear! Thank you, Elio and CPR.