Protest at Boxing Day races

By Jessica Tyson

Activists will be holding placards and banners outside the Auckland Boxing Day races, calling for the implementation of a retirement plan for racehorses and asking racegoers to reconsider supporting the sport.

Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR) spokesperson Aya McKenzie says the group is, “opposed to horseracing because every aspect of it is fundamentally cruel to the racehorses before, during and after their racing careers.

“Without a comprehensive retirement program, most racehorses when they are no longer profitable, will find themselves in a knackery pen waiting to be killed.”

She says under coercion by a jockey wielding a whip, nearly all racehorses will sustain injuries as a result of being pushed too far.

According to CPR, regulations allow the whip to be used five times prior to the 100m mark and then at the jockey’s discretion.

"It’s unconscionable that a sport that purports to love their horses allows this happen in the first place but then the ultimate betrayal comes when the horse is no longer profitable and in most cases will be condemned to slaughter," says McKenzie.

New Zealand Racing Board spokeswoman Lenska Papich told Stuff the industry takes animal welfare very seriously and works hard to minimise harm to horses and greyhounds.

"Horses and Greyhounds must be deemed fit to race with vets on site for checks prior to all races commencing.

"In terms of horses, our industry has a rate of below 0.5 per 1000 starters for serious injuries."

Activists will protest from 11am today at the Ellerslie Racecourse.

Rereātea has approached the New Zealand Racing Board for comment and is awaiting a reply.


  • There is no retirement plan for racehorses
  • 90% of racehorses suffer from bleeding in the lungs directly as a result of over-exertion
  • 90% suffer from stomach ulcers as a result of an unnatural feeding regime
  • Racehorses are stabled for up to 22 hours per day while in training
  • The whip is allowed to be used five times prior to the 100m mark and then at the jockey’s discretion
  • The average racing career is less than three years.
  • In New Zealand, around 5,500 thoroughbred are raced annually.