Melbourne Cup 2019 recap: no sniffer dogs and “excessive whipping”

Here we are again, not so fondly looking back on the race that stops a nation. Melbourne Cup 2019 is done and dusted and… not one horse died! Yay?

Yesterday we published an article pointing out the policing double standards between race day events and music festivals. Both are hives for excessive drinking and drug use, yet while a practical sea of sniffer dogs descends upon each and every large music festival in the country, the same can’t be said for the Cup.

melbourne cup 2019 statistics boycott
Photo: Getty

81,000 people, a single drug arrest, and no sniffer dogs. Let’s look back on Melbourne Cup 2019, the race that continues – for better or worse – to stop a nation.

In hindsight, it seems we were just about proved right. No news sources have reported on a sniffer dog presence, and a grand total of six arrests were carried out over the day by the Victorian Police. Four were for drunken misconduct, one for an outstanding warrant, and one for drug possession. This was out of 81,408 Flemington attendees.

This year Splendour In The Grass, one of Australia’s largest festivals, reported 42,500 ticket sales. On site, over 200 people were arrested and charged with drug offences. Sure, I’ve seen first hand that there are plenty of drug takers at music festivals, and some of those people were arrested within the full bounds of the law. But you expect me to believe that only one person at Flemington Racecourse yesterday was in possession of drugs?

Whatever the motives, police somehow found the resources to deploy sniffer dogs and strip search areas at one event and not the other. They were so meticulous at Splendour, they even searched an underage girl.

But the Cup and music festivals are wildly different events – or so say the many lovely comments we had on our article yesterday. They’re mostly right! One is a hotbed for animal cruelty and gambling, and one is a place to see some bands play.

Here it’s worth mentioning that Australia has one of the most hideous gambling problems in the world, with the average man or woman over 18 losing $1250 per year on gambling alone. I’m yet to see a study into the negative impacts music events are having on contemporary Australian society, but please point me in that direction if somebody manages to fund one.

As race day began, many activist groups, public figures, artists, and others were quick to denounce the Cup’s proceedings. From the more formal disavowal of PETA to the more casual ‘Fuck The Cup’ messages posted around Twitter and beyond, it was clear this year was going to be as divisive as ever.

Apart from the arrests, what exactly went down at Melbourne Cup 2019? Well one horse retired with a broken pelvis, one jockey was penalised for “excessive whipping”, and several brawls broke out (one in the Corporate Marquee).

As for the yearly spike in domestic violence against women the Melbourne Cup brings about, it’s still a little early to tell.

But punter numbers were down from last year’s 83,471, marking the two lowest years of Cup attendance since 1995. Betting turnover was also down 5.9 percent compared to last year.

More and more Australians are waking up to the reality of what the Melbourne Cup is; caveman entertainment bankrolled by industries with a collective abattoir’s worth of blood on their hands.