The ABC has been accused of trying to tarnish the reputation of the Spring Racing Carnival by airing a strategically timed exposé into the slaughtering of retired racehorses.
Harrowing video aired on ABC’s 7.30 showed racehorses being whipped, kicked and abused before being killed for pet food at knackeries in New South Wales and Queensland.
While the footage uncovered disturbing details about the mistreatment of retired horses, some viewers were quick to question the timing of the report’s release.
‘Must be getting close to racing season,’ one man wrote. ‘All the half-a**ed animal activists come out only [at] this time of year.’
‘Amazing how all these people pop up in the horse racing season,’ a woman added.
‘Are you advocating for all the backyard horses left to starve as well?’
Horse and stable owners also joined in on the backlash.
Racing sources told Daily Mail Australia the horses taken to abattoirs were in many cases not sold by race owners, but were third hand – meaning the horse’s owner at the time of its racing career was well out of the picture.
Punters have accused the ABC of airing its expose into the slaughtering of retired racehorses to coincide with the Spring Racing Carnival (pictured: racegoers enjoying a day at the Melbourne Cup carnival)
A statement from Racing Australia said the body could only trace the first sale of a racehorse after its retirement – and these figures indicated most were sent to the equestrian, breeding or pleasure sectors, with only one per cent sent to abattoirs.
However it urged for the program to be expanded to track subsequent ownership changes, and to take in all horses, not just ex-racehorses.
‘One of the reasons Racing Australia supports the proposal for a National Traceability Register for All Horses is that it would provide federal and state animal welfare authorities access to ownership and location information for these thoroughbreds,’ the statement read.
Owners have been left distraught by the report and the hate mail they have received in the hours following the ABC report, with most claiming they would never hurt their horses this way.
The owner of Riverside Stud and Racing Stables, which was identified as the brand of one horse seen at an abattoir in the vision, said they had received a great deal of hate mail, despite not even owning the horse pictured.
‘We welcome any horse that we have bred to come back home to be re-educated and find suitable homes,’ a post on the stables’ Facebook page read.
The owner claimed the horse pictured in the report was not bred at their stable, and had only been branded with the same mark.
Following the report, Riverside Stud and Racing Stables said they would no longer be offering branding services to other horses so as not to be blamed for ill-treatment by others.
‘From this point forward our brand will no longer be used on any horses but our own. When we have the money to purchase another brand to do clients’ horses we will,’ they said in the post.
Distressing footage aired on Thursday night shows hundreds of healthy racehorses being mistreated and slaughtered for consumption – but racing insiders say the report is misleading
One racehorse owner says they were incorrectly linked to the report, and will be ending their branding services as a result
NSW Racehorse Owners Association President Ray McDowell said there was major work being done by the state body to ensure racehorses were able to live long and full lives after their retirement.
‘Racing NSW is doing a magnificent job to make sure all horses are being taken care of in the racing industry,’ he said.
‘They’re buying farms and setting up systems to ensure these horses are being cared for.’
Victorian bookie Jonathan Walsh took to Twitter to slam the report as ‘typical leftist journalism’, and said the ABC had tried to tar all horse owners with the same brush.
Mr Walsh said the national broadcaster had an ‘axe to grind’ with the racing industry as a whole, and had not reported on the raft of reforms to improve the welfare of retired horses over the last decade.
‘Everyone is in agreement in regards to the welfare of horses,’ he wrote. ‘But the ABC clearly have an axe to grind on any sort of racing and continue to provide the public with anti racing content.’
‘They certainly painted the [greyhound racing industry] that way and they have not recovered from it,’ he added.
Many said while the report laid out some shocking truths, the timing of its release was questionable
Others slammed the ‘half a**ed activists’ who are only vocal about the treatment of racehorse around Melbourne Cup time (pictured are crowds at Melbourne Cup 2015)
Online, punters fumed about the ‘hypocritical’ report, claiming many animals besides horses were slaughtered the same way as shown in the report, but without any complaint.
‘Millions of animals are slaughtered this way for consumption, why is this any different?’ one woman asked.
‘Horse meat is consumed in many countries, particularly in Europe. If we don’t like that, ban all slaughtering and meat consumption.’
Another noted the high costs of keeping horses and the drought affecting rural communities meant having horses slaughtered could at times be the more humane option.
‘While I agree with the rules and regulations and completely agree that they should be retired into better conditions, I do wonder how many retired race horses would die under neglect and drought,’ she said.
Many were enraged by the report though, and said they would never engage with racing again as a result.
‘By the way, will never bet on Melbourne Cup again or any other horse race,’ one user wrote on Facebook.
‘BOYCOTT THE MELBOURNE CUP… horse racing has to end,’ another commented.
‘Everyone should boycott the Spring Racing Carnival. If your workplace has a Melbourne Cup sweep, say no and ask the organiser if he or she really knows what goes on behind the veil of ”glamour”,’ a third said.
Devastating vision aired on 7.30 shows workers at the abattoir mistreating the horses, whipping them, kicking them and even yelling at them
Thursday’s report, which was the culmination of 18 months worth of investigating with the aid of anti-racing activists, revealed an alarming number of retired thoroughbreds were being killed for meat.
Racing Australia’s official data claims about 34 racehorses every year end up at slaughterhouses, a figure amounting to less than one per cent of retiring horses.
But Elio Celotto from the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses refuted that number and told the ABC that about 4,000 racehorses had been killed in one abattoir alone.
That abattoir – located in Queensland’s south-east – has been the focus of the broadcaster’s investigation and was infiltrated with hidden cameras.
The cameras showed that in just 22 days, more than 300 racehorses were killed.
Mr Celotto said even from the property boundary, hundreds of horses could be seen being unloaded and abused by workers.
A two year investigation into the $1 billion industry conducted by ABC’s 7.30 claims many healthy retired racehorses are sent to slaughterhouses – but racing sources say the animals have often been sold to multiple non-racing owners by this stage
Shocking vision showed workers at the abattoir mistreating the horses, whipping them, kicking them and even yelling abuse at them.
‘Come on you dumb f***ing horse! F***! You’re dead! You are dead!’ a worker can be heard screaming.
Other workers were shown yelling in glee as they bolted the horses in the head with a stun gun – some up to five times before they died.
The investigation also aired accusations of multiple instances of animal cruelty at the slaughterhouses racehorses are being sent to.
The ABC says despite racing’s peak body implementing rules requiring the registration and tracking of horses from their birth to their retirement, racehorses are still being killed in slaughterhouses on a weekly basis.
Racing NSW CEO Peter V’landys tod the ABC he was not aware of any NSW racehorses being sent to slaughterhouses.
However, he said if it is occurring the state body would ‘put the full force of the law’ against offenders.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted ABC for comment.