When I first came to Australia the Melbourne Cup was a BIG thing.

It was ‘the race that stopped the nation’ and for many years I got swept up by it all. I would have a flutter, maybe dress up and/or go to an event.

But over the past few years that’s really dropped off.

Now I see more reports on how the horses are treated and people’s growing revulsion to the whole thing.

For the past few years I haven’t really watched or taken any notice of the whole thing… it’s not been a deliberate thing, it’s just happened.

But one thing I am very aware of… hearing yet another horse has died.

This year’s death of Anthony Van Dyck brings the total number of deaths on Cup day to seven since 2013.

It’s also the second death of a horse at Flemington Racecourse this year.

A post-mortem examination will now be carried out on this latest horse and a report prepared, but will anything change? Probably not.

As RSPCA Victoria CEO Liz Walker says: “Depending on which horses you count … around six deaths in seven years. That’s clearly a lot more than an accident. It’s absolutely a trend.”

It’s even prompted a hashtag campaign on social media: #NupToTheCup.

And coupled with this, images of people getting drunk and behaving obnoxiously really doesn’t endear me to the event.

This year, more than any other, the whole thing just seems so very irrelevant and unnecessary.

And as a Queenslander I probably sound like a bit of a hypocrite, especially considering Victoria’s other major sporting event – the AFL Grand Final – was moved for the first time ever away from the hallowed turf of the MCG, to Brisbane’s Gabba stadium.

Added to that tonight sees the start of the State of Origin rugby league series.

To be fair, I feel for Melburnians who’ve just come out of a long lockdown.

The Melbourne Cup is “their” big event and although thanks to COVID-19, spectators weren’t allowed trackside, I can understand how this must have been a fantastic day to dress up, meet with friends, have a few drinks and celebrate something close to ‘normal’ again.

But the big difference is – this sport involves animals and an awful lot of money.

And animals don’t have a voice or a choice.

If a person is killed or seriously injured in a sport – there’s an inquiry and rules are changed.

2020 has been full of challenges – maybe this is the perfect time for the horse racing industry to take a long, hard look at itself and make some more significant changes.

Just saying.