19 October 2019

Slaughterhouse outrage warns of racing's judgement day

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

As the week unwound, marketing for The Everest went into overdrive. When the barrier draw on Tuesday used the Harbour Bridge — absent the outrage of last year's Opera House fiasco — Racing NSW supremos got busy crafting an entirely different narrative for today; one where The Everest, in just its third running, would cast aside the sclerotic, centuries-old Melbourne Cup and assume the mantle as Australia's greatest horse race.

Then Thursday night's 7.30 went to air, sweeping away all this facade to lay a repellent, despicable truth in the shape of a procession of abused, tortured and finally dead racehorses at the feet of racing regulators.

11 April 2019

How Winx made racing great again

Win or lose on Saturday, the great mare has given so much over her career, she has nothing left to prove

The swansong takes its mythical meaning from the solitary and beautiful cry that a swan allegedly makes as it dies, a wail made more poignant by the fact that swans glide silently through their lives, leading to that final moment of reckoning. It is an ancient notion that was already well established among the Greeks of the third century BC.

And so it is we anticipate poetry in motion from Winx on Saturday, a send-off equal to her unmatched career, a swansong full of grace and beauty and power, as she puts a space between herself and the also-rans down the Randwick straight one last magnificent time, just as she has done in no less than 19 of her 36 career wins. But, to paraphrase national treasure Bruce McAvaney, this is more special than special. The racing public expect an archetypal fairytale finish; even after all she has given us, we need the Queen of the Turf to leave us with one final indelible record of her greatness, that of the greatest thoroughbred athlete to take breath since the rum corps staged the first Australian horse race around Hyde Park in 1810.