Horse Racing

Violent anti-racing speech condemned, but artist says it was satirical

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Organisers of an anti-racing event have taken down a video of a violent speech made by a performer who addressed the event, which called for Melbourne Cup attendees to be euthanised.

The Nup to the Cup event was organised by the Coalition for the Protection of Race Horses and hosted at the Flemington and Kensington Bowls Club, across the road from the racecourse. It was attended and promoted by Animal Justice MP Georgie Purcell, who condemned the speech.

Writer and performer Tobias Manderson-Galvin emceed the event. He describes himself on his website as a “performance maker, artist and writer based in Narm/Melbourne”.

“His practice routinely troubles the capitalist myths of scarcity, stability, and freedom; the responsibility of authority; and the potential of performance as a site of political action,” his profile states.

In the video, Manderson-Galvin can be heard saying: “Every single silk shirted, flat-capped, tiny jockey little small bean, cover their corpses in the big, green screen. Show it on the TV and then fill ’em full of lead, from one to 24 ’til every f––g jockey’s dead.”

Referring to those in attendance at Flemington Racecourse, he said: “They’re all in there now. Well, in their parlance, let’s euthanise the lot on mass.”

Elio Celotto says he was at the protests outside Flemington on Cup day.Credit: Chris Hopkins

Purcell, who has been attending Nup to the Cup events for 10 years, condemned the speech.

“It is the first time that there has ever been commentary or display like that.” she said. “I was completely taken by surprise. Our movement is one of non-violence, and that applies to both people and animals.

“I said to my staff the moment it happened that I didn’t feel comfortable being present for it.”

She added that she called organisers on Friday to express this view. Asked why she didn’t approach organisers on the day, Purcell said: “On reflection, perhaps I should have, but Melbourne Cup Day for me, as a member of Parliament now, is highly demanding. I had a number of media interviews I had to do, and I left the event for other reasons.”

Manderson-Galvin stopped short of taking back his comments, describing the speech as a satirical poem.

“The only thing I regret is that there is a continued need to make art in response to the despicable practice of horse racing,” he told this masthead.

The video was uploaded to the Nup to the Cup Facebook event by an external party.

Campaign director Elio Celetto said the video was posted without the group’s knowledge, and was deleted after it received criticism online.

“We also abhor any form of violence. The speech that was made by a guest emcee, and he came up without consulting anybody,” he said.

“It was intended to be satirical, it was not meant to be taken seriously. Certainly, what he said is not something that the CRP support in any way, shape or form,” he said.

“We would not condone any form of violence towards any other people.”

Celetto was not in attendance the day of the event, as he was protesting outside the racecourse. He added he had not seen the video.

The speech also suggested racegoers should be drowned in mud.

“Certainly, what he said is not something that the CRP support in any way, shape or form.”

“Then get every … boy and all the horsie girls and drown them in the mud, and the fashion in the field, let’s splatter that shit in blood.”

“Turn them all to glue, and leave nothing but the grass. And if you still want to race after all that’s done and said, go stand behind the f—g horse and let it kick you in the head.”

In the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorse’s statement, Manderson-Galvin said: “The poem is a satire on the racing industry’s complicity in the deaths of its horses.”

“I struggle to believe those seeking to create outrage are taking it literally,” he added.

“I didn’t run the poem by anyone in advance of performing it because I assumed anyone present would understand it as metaphor – however difficult the subject.”

Manderson-Galvin said he wasn’t an active member of the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses and had not emceed previously, but had attended protests in the past.

Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup was the third fatality-free running of the race in as many years, after tighter safety protocols were adopted following the spring carnival of 2020.

The Victoria Racing Club, which hosts the Melbourne Cup Carnival, said threats to anyone are uncalled-for.

“Equine health and safety sit at the heart of everything the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) does in racing, and the Club and the wider racing industry, led by Racing Victoria, prioritise the health and safety of horses before, during and after racing,” the club said.

“The initiatives Racing Victoria has led and implemented, along with the VRC in recent years for horses competing in the Spring Racing Carnival and in particular the Melbourne Cup, set a new global standard for horse and jockey safety with the introduction of some of the world’s most stringent pre-travel and pre-race veterinary screening processes.”

Minister for Racing Anthony Carbines has been contacted for comment.

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