By Sally Webster
Times are tough in the New Zealand racing industry and when thoroughbreds don’t perform, their days are numbered. They are being stacked into cattle trucks for the long trip down to Gore, where a little-known abattoir slaughters them for the dinner tables of Europe. Sally Webster investigates the Sport of Kings and its tawdry little secret
Soliloquy Lodge is on the flat roads of Karaka. It lies just south of the mangrove-lined Manukau Harbour. It’s a place where there just seems to be a lot of sky.
The neat ranch fences open up to a winding grey gravel driveway, spare and clean. A few mares graze next to a pond, near one of three wooden barns. David Moore’s family has been working on this land since before World War II. His wife Angenita grew up on a farm in Europe. They know and love the thoroughbred horses they breed and race.
They have high hopes for every foal born. Could this one be the next Culminate, the brown mare who won them more than $800,000 on the course? Or the next Russian Hero, their famous bay stallion?
“We give the young horses the best feed and care, good pasture, and time to grow good muscle and develop soundly,” Angenita says. “It’s like a nursery here – we’re producing athletes.”
So why, then, was a horse bearing the “SL 7/8” brand photographed by animal welfare activists at a stockyard in Christchurch, bound by cattle truck for the knackers in Gore? A knacker that is named, perversely, Clover Export Ltd.