As usual, it was the race that stopped the nation. It was also the race that ended a horse’s life; though you’d be forgiven if you missed it.
The coverage of the Melbourne Cup was once again filled with festivities, but when five-year-old mare “Verema” snapped her right leg and had to be put down, cameras and commentary were directed elsewhere. Channel 7 conducted a horseback interview of a triumphant Damien Oliver, who awkwardly trotted past the green tarps obscuring the unfortunate events unfolding behind. Still no mention of the situation – but that’s no surprise.
Shortly after, Racing Victoria confirmed Verema had to be put down.
Veterinary Info: 05-11-2013 Flemington 7 – 21 Verema – unfortunately suffered right fore cannon fracture and had to be euthanised
— RVStewards (@RVStewards) November 5, 2013
2 hours later, and 10 minutes after the last race of the day, Flemington Racecourse also shared the news.
VRC STATEMENT: The VRC extends its sympathies to the connections of Verema. Read: http://t.co/xHMHoMr9y3
— Victoria Racing Club (@FlemingtonVRC) November 5, 2013
Meanwhile, Fairfax’s The Age was silent. By 6:30 pm, The Age was running seven Melbourne Cup stories on their front page, but couldn’t find room for the horse that didn’t make it.
Even the Herald Sun, one of Rupert Murdoch’s babies, was sharing the news on their front page before 4:15 pm, albeit surrounded by a myriad of Cup propaganda.
At 5:50 pm, The Age had finally confirmed the news, but only briefly in their “live blog” – well and truly by the time racegoers were removing their heels and urinating behind the fences while waiting for their train home.
Just to be clear, I have no doubts that euthanasia was the right choice for the horse, and I’m not interested in the debate about whether horse racing is a humane or legitimate sport. My beef here is with Fairfax. There seems to be no problem breaking news regularly, but how can this delay be explained?
Perhaps The Age has some corporate interests it needs to protect.
Conspiracy theories aside, if a jockey had fallen and died during Australia’s great race, it would overshadow everything else, even the wildest of fascinators. Why is it that we choose to turn a blind eye to the animals who are the engine of this whole industry?
Oops, I believe I just answered my own question.
UPDATE @ 8:15 pm: we now have an article proper from The Age. My concern is that it still took 5 hours to create a headline for the newspaper. To my eye, it looks as though they delayed the news until well after the festivities of Cup Day concluded. If this story was withheld to protect advertising interests, it surely sends a grave message to those who rely on the paper because it prides itself on being “Independent. Always.” For this reason, I hope I’m wrong.