Facing demons

Facing demons

The horse racing industry must face change if it wants to remain part of the Australian sporting landscape.

Animal Cruelty. Image: Jacek Dudzinski, Dreamstime.com
Animal Cruelty. Image: Jacek Dudzinski, Dreamstime.com

Caulfield Cup Day should have been a day of celebration for the industry, but instead its own treatment of horses overshadowed the races.

“I think, like most people involved in racing, my passion is derived from my love of horses,” Brae Sokolski said.

“I think the same applies for 99.9 per cent of people in the industry, but unfortunately there is a minority that are doing things absolutely abhorrent.”

An investigation aired on ABC’s 7.30 Report last week revealed that hundreds of racehorses are being killed in slaughterhouses, in contravention of racing rules, rehoming policies and animal welfare guarantees.

While the industry claims less than 50 horses are killed each year, the investigation reveals the number is in the thousands.

Sokolski said mistreatment of any animal is unacceptable.

“There is no doubt that it has to be stamped out immediately.”

His comments were echoed by Victoria’s Minister for Racing Martin Pakula.

“The footage from the Queensland abattoir was shocking, and no doubt agriculture authorities in that state will be investigating as a matter of urgency,” the Jewish MP told The AJN.

He noted the overwhelming majority of retired racehorses are rehomed, but there needs to be changes to track horses that are often rehomed multiple times.

“Racing Australia has made it clear to the Commonwealth, via a senate inquiry, that it backs a National Horse Traceability Register – for all horses in Australia – and Victoria supports them in calling for that reform.”

The issue has already hit home for Sonney Roth.

It has been revealed his 2018 Melbourne Cup runner Red Cardinal was jiggered, which means it was being given electric shocks, on its neck while the horse was on a treadmill inside trainer Darren Weir’s stables.

The footage is part of the case against Weir and others in his stable. They are facing criminal charges under Victoria’s animal cruelty laws.

Roth said he was shocked by the reports.

“As owners we had no idea what was going on behind the scenes,” he said.

“I don’t condone anything that happened, and the full force of the law will be used to prosecute if he’s found guilty.”

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