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Faith in Industry Restored!

After the disturbing revelations last month (see here) that rocked the Australian racing industry, this $9 billion a year Goliath swiftly cranked up into full damage control, aided and abetted by members of the industrial-complex.  The pathetic gesture of a $25 million Equine Welfare plan was hastily announced in the hopes of placating an increasingly-disillusioned public in the run up to racing’s most profitable week of the calendar year.  $25 million out of the pot at Racing Victoria won’t be missed any more than the 122 horses (at least) that have died on the track this year.  On both counts, there’s plenty more where they came from.  

With public confidence in the racing industry on the undeniable wane, and numbers at this year’s Melbourne Cup the lowest since 1995, all subtlety can wait.  Give the punters their fairy tale, even if it means drenching the front page of the usually-solemn ‘The Australian’ in a saccharine world of fantasy. 

Our writer, John Stensholt, certainly paints a pretty picture of Tuesday’s main spectacle at Flemington.   And nothing unites a jaded, lukewarm nation faster than a strong dose of fanatical, over-the-top patriotism. 

For we learn that not any old horse, but an Australian horse, against all odds (well, odds of $11 actually) beat all those pesky, unwelcome foreign horses to rightfully claim the Cup, win the hearts of this nation and rebuild public trust.  Enter our Aussie hero ‘Vow and Declare’.  These strange and foreign horses from other lands are met with suspicion and contempt, the would-be villains of the piece.  Isn’t the language of the racing industry baffling?  These individuals are given nationalities but denied sentience.

That this sugar-sweet narrative has elbowed its way to the front page of a national broadsheet is somewhat offensive and yet wholly unsurprising: for here we have a powerful and influential industry that have been exposed to be radically at odds with their carefully crafted and honed brand.  You’d be forgiven for thinking that such a mawkish sentimental narrative has flourished from the pen of a pensive teenage girl.  In reality, this is front page news courtesy of a grown adult male, and uncomfortable reading for those attempting to digest their muesli at the breakfast table.  A story as wholesome and satisfying as any classic rags to riches prose, weaving fantastical characters composed of lovable larrikins, Aussie Battlers and misty-eyed dutiful wives. 

Source: The Australian

However, these picture-book characters aren’t the working-class heroes they are trumpeted to be.  Our horse ‘owners’ aren’t a “bunch of ordinary Aussies” as the article would have us believe. 

Cashed up and bored; Company Directors, Politicians and Deputy Mayors constitute the lion’s share of ‘ownership’ of the individual who happened to race for his life a fraction faster than the others on Tuesday. 

Paul Lansky is described in the article as a “Noosa bloke in construction who breeds horses for a hobby”.  Our writer would have us believe Lansky is the good honest grafter we might find commuting on an early morning train or bus, in worn, torn hi-vis, lunch bag in calloused hand.  In reality he’s the OWNER of a multi-million dollar construction business, whose portfolio includes, but isn’t limited to, shopping centres, complexes, substations and supermarkets.  As for his ‘hobby’, there’s not many ‘ordinary Australians’ who are in a financial position to enslave, breed and train thoroughbred horses for shits and giggles. 

What about our ‘Draughtsmen from Melbourne’s south east’?  Ostensibly, it’s a well-paying job commanding well over the average Australian wage, particularly if you are Stuart Livingstone, the DIRECTOR of Digimech, a mechanical drafting business.  Simply put, he’s doing ok. 

Well-connected Deputy Mayor Geoff Corrigan, supposedly ‘fell in love’ with Vow and Declare, but somehow still had room in his heart to ‘share ownership’ with other well-heeled types, who were presumably similarly lovestruck, but really – who is still buying into the hokum at this point? 

In order to regain the faith of the average Australian, the ‘Sport of Kings’ apparently recognises that it must humble itself to have accessibility amongst the ordinary.  To be seemingly comprised of ‘ordinary Australians’ who got lucky.  However, an industry built on animal abuse and human misery for the pleasure of the elite can never be acceptable amongst ordinary Australians, regardless of whatever romantic filter their hardworking PR machine deems effective. 

These aren’t your normal Aussie blokes.  This isn’t a charming, nationalistic tale of plucky underdog done good.  Something smells of horse shit, and it’s not just the mounting yard. 

For more information on the life of a horse used for racing, see our page here. 

Read the fairy tale article here.

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