The organisation behind Melbourne Cup protests has accused the horse racing industry of camouflaging the "truth" behind the sport's "cruelty" by distracting young fans with shiny at-track promotions. Sydney's popular The Everest and Golden Eagle meets – along with the traditional Melbourne spring carnival - are increasingly attracting a young party crowd rather than rusted-on thoroughbred racing enthusiasts.
The atmosphere is more nightclub than nag watching, with DJs, fashion parades, champagne bars and pampering salons vying for punters' attention. But it's all a ruse, according to animal activist group Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR).
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They say the side acts are a diversion to what's happening on the track. "It's obvious a deliberate ploy to get young people to the races. People would not go if it wasn’t for the entertainment," campaign director Elio Celotto told Yahoo Sport Australia.
"I think their hope is it might lure in some potential punters – that's the long-term goal. It's a sign that they are doing everything possible to attract crowds but the reality is when most people are finally exposed to the truth behind racing - the cruelty, exploitation and abuse of horses - they will not return."
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The CPR's #NuptotheCup campaign has gained traction over the past few years, celebrating a major victory with the cancellation of the traditional Cup-eve horse and jockey parade through the Melbourne CBD. "The Spring Carnival and Melbourne Cup especially is a busy time," Celotto said.
"We demonstrated at Derby Day, we'll also be conducting a vigil on Monday at Fed Square where they normally have the Melbourne Cup Parade. It’s been cancelled this year and most probably for good. We will be there to pay respect to the 168 horses who have been killed in the 22-23 racing season and the thousands more who disappear without a trace.
"And, of course, we’ll be having our Nup to the Cup event and demonstration in Newmarket Reserve in Flemington. We want people to know that we can all have a good time on the first Tuesday in November but instead of supporting animal cruelty by going to a horse racing event, they could be supporting an animal charity by going to a Nup to the Cup event being held around the country.
"We can foresee the day where people who care about animals will totally reject the Melbourne Cup and Nup to the Cup events rival the biggest day on the racing calendar."
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