Footage has emerged of a person pouring what looks to be an oily substance onto the track at the Melbourne Cup in an apparent act of sabotage.
Victoria Police were called to Flemington on Tuesday morning to investigate damage that had been caused to the track. The damage is understood to have been carried out intentionally.
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Racing Victoria announced before the opening race on Melbourne Cup day that Victoria Racing Club track staff had been forced to undertake remedial work on an area near the 1500-metre mark.
Racing.com reports that something was thrown onto the track rather than it being dug up.
The Victorian branch of global activism group 'Extinction Rebellion' posted footage of the incident earlier on Tuesday.
The group wrote on social media: “This morning, XR was contacted by friends who had dumped 1000 litres of sludge onto Flemington Racecourse ahead of today’s Melbourne Cup activities.
“The privileged in our society are on notice that as crises deepen and we do not see justice for communities, individuals and animals, ordinary people will be [driven] more and more to undertake these sorts of desperate actions.”
BREAKING: This morning XR was contacted by friends who had dumped 1000 liters of sludge onto Flemington Racecourse ahead of today’s Melbourne Cup activities. Footage of this and a press release are attached. @FlemingtonVRC @XRVicAus @BBCNews @7NewsMelbourne @10NewsFirstMelb pic.twitter.com/hzNv3tL4Le
— XRVicAus (@XRVicAus) November 1, 2022
Nine News reporter Maggie Raworth reported that Extinction Rebellion protesters are “saying the people that did this … are their friends”.
“I’ve just received videos of the actual attack and it shows somebody breaking into the track overnight and throwing 1000 litres of oily sludge onto the outer part of the racecourse,” Raworth told 3AW radio.
“We have just seen one race take place and it didn’t seem to affect the event at all but it looks like as the day progresses there could be a safety issue.”
Police confirmed in a statement that "unknown offenders have broken into a racing facility in Flemington and poured an unknown substance over a portion of the track about 6am".
After remedial work was undertaken, the track was deemed safe by stewards.
"RV Stewards have assessed the Flemington track following notification of some damage to the surface at the 1500m mark," Racing Victoria said in a statement.
"Remedial work has been undertaken by VRC track staff.
"The track has been deemed safe for racing by RV Stewards with no impact on the conduct of today’s meeting."
The incident was allegedly carried out by a man who identifies as a 'problem gambler', who said the act was a protest against Victoria Racing Club and the 'toxic' racing industry. #9News
— 9News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) November 1, 2022
Jeez that’s pathetic
— Anthony Stewart (@GoBeaded) November 1, 2022
There a better ways to go about protesting.
— Louis (@louipye) November 1, 2022
— tanyasarah (@tanyasarah2) November 1, 2022
Protests start at Melbourne Cup
Meanwhile, animal rights protesters sporting inflatable Tyrannosaurus rex costumes have descended on Flemington calling for an end to horse racing.
Puzzled onlookers watched on as a group of dinosaurs holding signs that read 'Horse Racing is Prehistoric' converged for a race on Monday ahead of Tuesday's Melbourne Cup.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) along with the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR) organised the protest to encourage a boycott of the race.
CPR says 139 racehorses died on Australian tracks in the past year, in addition to the thousands of horses that die every year off the track from racing-related injuries or are killed for not being profitable.
"The Melbourne Cup - and all other events that cause horses to sustain catastrophic injuries and even die in the name of greed - deserve to go extinct," PETA's Emily Rice said.
"Today's dinosaur dash proves you can have fun by cheering on willing participants who enjoy themselves. No one needs to suffer for entertainment."
CPR Campaign Director Elio Celotto urged people to say 'Nup to the Cup' this year.
"We are inviting people to boycott horse racing by saying 'Nup to the Cup' and joining one of these many events taking place across the country," Mr Celotto said.
More protests are being organised ahead of Tuesday's event, which will mark the first with full crowds since the Covid-19 pandemic.
Victoria Police said it would have a highly visible presence trackside at Flemington, in the Melbourne CBD, and at major entertainment precincts across the four race days.
Uniform and plain clothes officers will be focused on deterring anti-social behaviour.
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