RACE HORROR: Jockey Dwayne Dunn tries to rein in Araldo after he was spooked by a spectator following the Melbourne Cup. Photo: AAP
RACE HORROR: Jockey Dwayne Dunn tries to rein in Araldo after he was spooked by a spectator following the Melbourne Cup. Photo: AAP

Jockey club boss defends racing industry

THE tragic aftermath of the Melbourne Cup has ignited debate about the merits of horse racing and divided opinions in the Clarence Valley.

Clarence River Jockey Club CEO Michael Beattie said the death of race favourite Admire Rakti, and later Araldo, who was euthanised after fracturing a cannon bone (leg bone) after shying at a spectator's flag following Tuesday's race, was tragic but refused to point the finger at the industry.

"The death of Admire Rakti is extremely sad," he said.

"He clearly died of a heart issue that wasn't evident pre-race and I think it's equally as sad to hear about sportsmen who die in very similar circumstances."

While many have condemned the horse racing industry, Mr Beattie said racing was in the blood of those horses that were bred to race.

He believes thoroughbreds are among the best cared-for animals in the world.

"They are under constant surveillance by their handlers, and if anything goes wrong they get immediate treatment," he said.

"The style of whip used in our racing is the kindest internationally, and the whip rules our jockeys are obliged to race under are the toughest in the world."

Mr Beattie also said the emphasis on re-homing and re-educating former racehorses was growing, with only a small percentage euthanased at the end of their professional careers.

"At the end of the day, there is one simple fact that will never change, and that is some racehorses will never be suitable for other equine pursuits," he said.

Big River Cutting Club president Fiona Brown said Tuesday's double tragedy was a sad day for the racing industry, and while it could happen in any horse sport, it would always be controversial.

"It's such a huge industry and so many people get affected by it," Ms Brown said. "I just think its very unfortunate it happened at the Melbourne Cup.

"I like the races but when something like this happens you really do see the other side of the racing industry."



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