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.
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
@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
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.