Cross-posted from The Independent (GB)
Written by MICHAEL DAY
It is not a good time to be a racehorse in Italy. Many Italians already had a taste for cavallo, but with the economy dipping and people staying away from the races, horse steaks, stews and cutlets are a set feature on many more menus.
As the bets dry up, and with many of the traditional New Year’s Day meetings cancelled for only the third time since the Second World War, the Italian press has been full of reports suggesting that many of Italy’s 15,000 racehorses could face a one-way trot to the butcher’s shop.
Last weekend, 200 officials and horse owners from the Agnano hippodrome carted their animals around the streets of Naples in protest at the crisis affecting their industry. In the north of Italy, the racecourses in Bologna and Cesena closed at the end of the year without knowing when, or if, they will reopen.
The situation is so bad that a leading animal rights group is calling on the government to step in to prevent thousands of racehorses from being butchered illegally. In Italy, animals used for racing cannot be eaten and Mr Grassi is adamant that the horses at his course would not suffer this fate.
“But we fear many Italian racehorses will end up at illegal butchers, because there are so few controls on these places,” Ilaria Ferri, the scientific director of the national animal protection agency, told The Independent. “We also fear many of the animals may suffer more cruelty. The Government must act by making it illegal to kill horses in the same way it’s illegal to kill cats, dog and other pets.”