Do Australians still hold the Melbourne Cup as dear to their hearts as they once did?
Animal activist group Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR) is behind the "Nup to the Cup" campaign and believe interest in the big race is waning.
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We spoke to their campaign director Elio Celotto.
Yahoo Sport Australia (YSA): Do you feel the Melbourne Cup is still "the race that stops the nation”?
Elio Celotto (EC): It's now a race that divides a nation. What was once intrinsically part of our culture is now a day many people have turned away from.
Looking at ourselves and deciding that perhaps part of what we used to do no longer fits is a good sign of an evolving society.
The Melbourne Cup and horse racing in general will never again enjoy the glamorous image it used to have because the reality for the horses is that it is exploitative, cruel and an outdated form of entertainment that no longer has a place in our society.
YSA: Do you ever think it will be removed from the Australian sporting calendar?
EC: Horse racing has been around for approximately 200 years, the Melbourne Cup more than 150 years. I don’t think it will ever be removed from the sporting calendar, however, we look forward to the day when more people will be celebrating by saying "Nup to the Cup" than people who are celebrating the Melbourne Cup. I can see that happening.
YSA: How would you rate the success of the #nuptothecup movement to date?
EC: We ran our first NTTC (Nup To The Cup) event back in 2010 with 30 people. The last NTTC event pre-Covid, we had more than 250 people and around 30 NTTC events being held around the country.
We think we're giving people who genuinely care about animals a viable alternative to celebrating what is fundamentally animal cruelty.
We’re getting a sense that more and more people are becoming aware of the reality of horse racing and as that happens, so does the NTTC movement.
Protesters raising money for animal charities
YSA: What is planned for Tuesday?
EC: We will be celebrating Nup to the Cup with events being held around the country. People want to have a good time and this is a way we can all have a good time but not at the expense of animals.
The difference between our events is that they will be raising money for animal charities that desperately require funding as opposed to horse racing that is directly responsible for the exploitation of horses.
CPR will be where we always are at Newmarket Reserve just up the road from the main entrance to Flemington Racecourse with our banners, placards and flags on display - sending a strong message to racegoers walking/driving past. And we'll be having a great time too. Everyone is welcome and it's free.
YSA: Do you feel you've had much success stopping workplaces from celebrating Cup day?
EC: Absolutely. Many businesses now instead of running a sweep, collect donations instead and donate to CPR or another charity.
We are always inundated with requests from workplaces which still want to have a good time but without supporting animal cruelty.
And that is why we’ve designed a special workplace kit that’s available on our nuptothecup.org website that we’ve been sending out to workplaces for several weeks.
YSA: What's your message to people who still attend the Cup or Cup functions?
EC: We would like everyone to consider the reality of what they are supporting. It’s not just harmless fun. For the horses, it’s their well-being and their lives.
Some people just don’t care about animals but for those that do, we would like them to consider what they are really supporting by attending a racing event. If you do really care about animals, you shouldn’t be going to the races. It’s as simple as that.
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