Where would we be without DNA testing? Otherwise who knows what might be lurking under your tomato sauce. Possibly dead cow, mad cow, lame horse or pickled panda. God forbid, it might even be tofu, tempeh or gluten.
Back in the early 1980s, long before cheap and easy DNA testing, Australia resorted to a Royal Commission into the meat industry to try and resolve the scandalous pollution of dead cattle with dead horse and dead kangaroo in domestic and export meat.
The US recently had its “downer cattle” scandal and now Europe has had headline stories for a week over horse meat. Undercover cruelty footage in slaughterhouses and factory farms is pretty common everywhere and seems to disappear like sketches on a beach at low tide, but mislabel carcinogenic horse as carcinogenic beef and all hell breaks loose.
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In racing, the term “pie eater” is an old-fashioned, gently derogatory term for hard-bitten punters. Pies are all they can afford after their weekly pay cheque has yet again put Sunday roast on the bookies’ dinner tables.
Well, the pie eaters of Australia have suddenly developed a taste for Black Caviar. That’s Black Caviar, the mighty mare who this week made it 18 wins from 18 starts in her most devastating racetrack outing yet.
Black Caviar attracted 20,000 infatuated racegoers to Caulfield on Saturday, the majority decked out in her salmon-and-black racing colours. Twenty thousand, to a race meeting which would usually attract a quarter that many. With the gates sensibly thrown open for free, they flocked to see the champion, who paraded around as if she knew she was just that.
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Yesterday, I woke up, dynamited a few fish down the river and shone my magnifying glass on some ants. But the critter toll wasn’t high enough for my sadistic needs, so I tuned into Sky Racing and watched the jumps racing at Warrnambool.
And wouldn’t you know it, a horse was killed in the very first race. Its name was Shine the Armour. It should have been called Polish the Turd, because that’s what racing authorities have done with this sick, brutal so-called sport.
In 2009, after a comprehensive review, it was announced that jumps racing was to be banned in Victoria from 2010 onwards. What happened next quite simply defies all of the logic which normally prevails in public debate in Australia.
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The biggest donkey-licking of the weekend wasn’t in New South Wales politics. It was at Melbourne’s Moonee Valley racecourse, where unbeaten mare Black Caviar went so fast it would have outpaced Mark Webber’s Red Bull. Actually, Melbourne trams go faster than Webber’s Red Bull. Anyway, you get the point.
Horse racing doesn’t get much of a run in the sports pages outside of Melbourne’s spring carnival, but with 11 wins from 11 starts, Black Caviar is already fit to graze in Phar Lap and Makybe Diva’s paddock, and has probably even earned the right to eat the nice green grass in the shady corner. Check her performance a few weeks back in the time-honoured Newmarket Handicap. Wow. She never got out of second gear.
Ratings experts, who produce a formula which no one seriously pretends to understand, upgraded Black Caviar to 135 after that win, which is a statistical way of saying she deserves a speeding ticket. Rival trainers know this, and are now avoiding her. That’s why racing authorities offered prize money of $10,000 down to eighth place on Friday night, in a desperate attempt to attract a decent-sized field.
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As you check the form for today’s Melbourne Cup, spare a thought for some of the jockeys who won’t be taking their place in the field.
They all have great experience, have shown extreme courage under pressure and a determination to succeed that does their profession proud.
Sadly they are also among the scores jockeys who suffer career-ending injuries every year.
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The Spring Racing Carnival is well under way and the racing industry is doing its best to put on a brave face and pretend all is chipper.
But deep down in the racing industry, hidden behind the glamorous façade filled with celebrities, celebrations, fashion and booze, there looms a very dark secret that the industry is working hard to quell.
Racing lost its first line of defence when it negligently allowed jumps racing to continue in 2008 despite opposition dating back more than twenty years.
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