‘I’m ashamed’: Bruce McAvaney’s plea after horse slaughter
AUSSIE sport icon Bruce McAvaney has called for immediate action to protect Australian race horses following revelations this week of horrific horse slaughter.
McAvaney spoke out against the industry's treatment of former racing horses in an emotional, and scripted, 80-second speech.
McAvaney's live speech at the start of Channel 7's day of racing coverage across The Everest at Royal Randwick and the Caulfield Cup in Melbourne coqes after an explosive report on ABC program 7.30 blew the lid on the "industrial scale" destruction of an enormous number of animals from Australia's $1 billion horse racing industry.
The report claimed up to 220 horses were being killed weekly at a Queensland abattoir.
McAvaney, a veteran, larger-than-life figure in the racing industry, used his platform to put further pressure on racing officials to better protect the horses that form the lifeblood of the industry.
"Thursday night's ABC expose of what happens to some retired racehorses calls for immediate action," McAvaney said.
"It was horrifying to watch. A small-time owner it made me feel ashamed, and to not have known is not good enough.
"There has to be a way we all think going forward. There nurturing of our racehorses in retirement is just as important as the care and training given to a yearling or a four-year-old champion.
"It's a complex issue that must be addressed as a priority. It's going to require a unified approach nationally across all levels of the industry.
"Horse racing can be the very best of sports, a magnificent spectacle where the thoroughbred, the strapper, the jockey, the trainer and the owner unite in a thrilling performance.
"For the sake of the future, we need to shine a spotlight on whatever might be lurking in the shadows and take action right now."
This is a critical time for the racing industry.— 7HorseRacing 🐎 (@7horseracing) October 19, 2019
Bruce McAvaney’s statement on the treatment of retired race horses. pic.twitter.com/Sj5r2brsCC
Racing Australia's chief executive also said he was "appalled" that healthy Australian racehorses were being slaughtered but insisted it was up to state governments to ensure animal welfare laws were being obeyed.
Barry O'Farrell was speaking on Friday after an investigation claimed hundreds and possibly thousands of racehorses were being sent to slaughter every year.
O'Farrell said the practices shown on ABC's 7.30 program were "absolutely unacceptable" but he remained "reasonably confident" in Racing Australia's official data, which showed just 34 horses annually ended up at slaughterhouses.
It came as winning The Everest trainer Chris Waller also claimed the industry had been let down by a small minority of rogue operators.
"We've got to be accountable as to every horse that leaves our stable but obviously there's gaps that need looking at," he said.
"And if people that are harsh to animals, whether they be a racehorse or whether they be a hobby horse or any animal for that matter, they need to be dealt with."
The RSPCA estimates 4000 former racehorses are slaughtered annually. ABC vision showed workers at the Meramist abattoir north of Brisbane tormenting horses before they were killed.
- with AAP