CLANCY OVERELL | Editor | CONTACT
At 3pm this afternoon, The famous Melbourne Cup horse race will be run for the 163rd time.
As almost every Australian citizen except those who immigrated here last week would know, the 3,200-metre race will be held at Flemington and contested by some of the fastest horses in our country and the world.
With a prize pool of $8m, and a public holiday in Melbourne, ‘The Race That Stops The Nation’ is a tradition that harks back to earliest iteration of Australia’s attempts at an egalitarian post-colonial identity – where Australians of all classes and backgrounds are able to revel in the greatest equaliser of all: a bit of a punt.
While in recent years, the Australian casual punter psyche has become victim to the predatory saturation of unethical online betting cartels who operate like blokey drug dealers with complete impunity, their betting apps have managed to protect themselves from any legislation or tax obligations by lobbying politicians with sports media propaganda and political donations that now rival the mining bosses.
However, the very real exploitation of an increasingly large portion of the Australian middle and working class who could now be classified as ‘problem gamblers’ – is not a cause romantic enough to become a social justice priority.
The working father, who is kept awake by the euphoric specials on the Dubai greyhounds that quietly ping from the iPhone that he is holding down the side of his bed at 3am to avoid waking up his oblivious wife who doesn’t yet realise it is completely legal to attach credit cards as a payment option on this vulturous betting apps, appears to be far less of a priority than the 3 and half minutes of discomfort that is forced upon the most pampered livestock on the planet.
Ironically, over the same decade that saw these very betting apps began pillaging the bank accounts and credit ratings of suicidal and debt-riddled Australians, the treatment of the actual horses has soared past any human victims as the number one issue for those who say nup to the cup.
The Melbourne Cup, one of the very rare instances of the community-centred fun and celebration that horseracing can bring into the lives of everyday people, has since become a hot button culture war over the rights of horses to run free like the introduced brumbies of the Snowy River whose inbred hooves have all but destroyed the natural habitats of any native species that once called the wild bushland home.
However, to the disappointment of those who have built personalities off the back of this inoffensive campaign and easy point scoring, the noise of protest surrounding the Melbourne Cup has this year been drowned out by real, urgent, global events.