In Marketing by Clyde Mooney

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Colonial Leisure Group’s Newtown Hotel is taking strides to stand out from the pack, giving Australia’s most famous horse race the bird in homage to its left-leaning locals.

The world-famous Melbourne Cup began in 1861, growing to become the annual highlight of the Australian racing calendar, enticing even once-a-year punters to have a flutter.

But like most elite sports, it has elements of tragedy, although most often with the subjugated animals, not their riders.

This came to the fore in 2014 when two horses died directly because of the Melbourne Cup; Admire Rakti collapsing and dying after the race, and Araldo euthanised after breaking his leg after the event. The backlash intensified the following year when Red Cadeaux had to be put down due to an injury sustained in the race.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) report 119 race horses dying on Australian tracks in the year to July 2018, with hundreds more injured.

Since Chris Morris’ Colonial Leisure Group (CLG) moved into Newtown and NSW with purchase of the former Keystone’s Newtown Hotel early 2016, management has strived to stay aligned with the dynamic, bohemian culture of the university-soaked inner-west precinct.

Management of the Newtown wanted to run a Cup day promotion catering to the surrounding new generations less engaged by a time-honoured display of slight men whipping big horses. CLG senior management saw the logic in backing their managers, opening the gates to the F**k The Cup event.

Instead of TVs glued to three minutes of action, the pub will offer live music by local artists, and a ‘Karma Keg’ of Yulli’s Brews, with all proceeds going to Horse Rescue Australia.

So far the Facebook event has attracted thousands of likes, hundreds of people confirming attendance, and hundreds more offering comments of support.

“It’s an alternative to a day where everybody’s doing the same thing,” explained CLG national general manager Lawrence Dowd. “There are a lot of people who are against it, and we just thought we’d take advantage of that and do something that resonated with people who don’t like going to the Melbourne Cup, or don’t believe in racing.

“We’ve had a really positive response from it.”

CLG has confirmed it will not be running any anti-Cup events at any of its other 15 venues throughout Victoria, WA or Queensland and is not entering any debate on the subject, but understands the Newtown staff’s reasoning.

“It makes a lot of sense for that area, so we backed them.”