A growing number of Australians plan to boycott the Melbourne Cup as the racing industry wrestles with cruelty and integrity scandals.
The ABC’s recent 7.30 investigation of the horse racing industry tapped into a growing pubic discomfort.
Among those embracing the #NupToTheCup movement is Rachael Lonergan, who recalls the “traumatic” Cup day in 2005 that put her off the races for good.
“In the first race on that day a horse was very badly injured, which was horrific. You could see that the had a very badly broken leg. And subsequently, [the horse] was euthanised on the track,” Ms Lonergan said.
“Up to that point I never had any concerns about [the Melbourne Cup]. Now, the whole idea of racing horses for entertainment and the fact they they get injured, it’s not worth it for me.”
So what will Ms Lonergan be doing this year instead of tuning into the race that stops the nation?
“I’m actually going to a Nup to the Cup lunch,” she told Hatch. “There’s a vegan yum cha restaurant [in Sydney] called Bodhi and part of the price of lunch supports horse rescue.”
#NuptotheCup is trending on all forms of social media, with celebrities and the general public alike declaring they will be abstaining from all festivities relating to the Cup.
Bodhi’s luncheon joins many other #NupToTheCup events around Australia in a growing movement spearheaded by the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses.
The line-up of celebrities expected to grace this year’s event is dwindling, with model Megan Gale the latest to pull out as an ambassador.
Singer Taylor Swift was slated to perform at the Cup this year but cancelled the appearance just two weeks after the original announcement. Her promoter cited “scheduling conflicts” – but her withdrawal came after an intense backlash from animal activists and fans.
Yo @taylorswift13 ! You have to cancel your Melbourne Cup show! By peforming an event like this publically says that you day YES to animal abuse. It’s showing your fans and young people all over the world that this kind of behaviour is acceptable #nuptothecup
— Tigerlily (@djtigerlily) September 14, 2019
@taylorswift13 I live in Melbourne, I was at the Rep tour here last year, I want you to perform in Melbourne so bad, but not at the Melbourne Cup. Please not the Cup do not do the Cup. We’ve been trying real hard here to stop the animal cruelty. Please don’t. #NupToTheCup
— Kaitlyn (@BlytheByName) September 12, 2019
Actor Lana Condor, star of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, also backflipped on her scheduled appearance at the Cup as the guest of dating app Bumble. The cancellation saw the company contribute a $130,000 donation to the Off The Track program, which supports the welfare and re-homing of retired racehorses.
Even Anthony Callea, who is booked to sing the national anthem at the big race, has promised to donate his performance fee to an equine welfare and rehabilitation organisation.
“This I hope will help them continue their work in ensuring the safety and future of these beautiful animals,” he wrote on Instagram on October 20.
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Like many Australians, I watched the ABC’s 7:30 Report episode last Thursday night and was shocked. I believe that we all should have a better awareness and support a movement in the industry towards positive change and ensuring that this appalling behaviour is eradicated. With my impending commitment to the entertainment line up on Melbourne Cup day, I have carefully considered this and to offer my support in this change, have decided to donate my performance fee to an equine welfare and rehabilitation organisation. This I hope will help them continue their work in ensuring the safety and future of these beautiful animals. I know this will not satisfy all, but I do hope in a time of differing opinions across many aspects of our society, that the singing of the National Anthem will unite us in our differences, and help celebrate and showcase my hometown of Melbourne and our beautiful country on the world stage.
The racing industry’s reputational concerns have had a ripple effect, with corporate support faltering.
Airline Emirates, known for its international sponsorship of horse racing and ties to the Cup, is missing from this year’s list of sponsors, while Sydney commercial law firm Marque Lawyers announced it would abstain from celebrations. This will be the first time in 11 years that its Cup lunch has not gone ahead.
We have decided to cancel this year’s Melbourne Cup lunch at Marque, as we can’t in conscience continue to celebrate or support the institutional cruelty that we now know the racing industry causes and accepts. May be ok for them, but it isn’t for us.
— marquelawyers (@marquelawyers) October 28, 2019