Being “in clover” means having good fortune.
That goes for cats, too. The Cats in Clover Cattery in the Bay of Islands sounds like Heaven for a moggy. It boasts 14 large private cat apartments, and two semi-communal rooms, overlooking subtropical streamside gardens, rich with bird life.
“Our cattery provides the highest standards of care, cleanliness and accommodation. Cats in Clover is a place where you can leave your cats with confidence in the knowledge that they will be well looked after by an animal lover and former vet nurse whose first priority is the welfare of your pets.”
But horses might have a different experience.
Especially clapped-out race horses with a track record for losing.
They could finish up at an outfit called Clover Export Ltd, down in Southland, where they will be turned into tasty cuts of horse meat.
The Herald on Sunday presumably finds something untoward in having a clapped-out horse turned into horse meat, because it has had staff spend several weeks looking into the business.
Alf can’t see the need for any fuss, frankly. It looks like an industry that is generating good export revenue, and accordingly it ought to be applauded.
But the HoS has struck a disapproving tone.
Hundreds, even thousands, of thoroughbred horses that don’t win races are sent to be butchered for the dinner tables of Europe – partly because their owners can’t afford to keep them.
NZ Thoroughbred Racing says the fates of about 1000 horses a year are unknown, but transporters say the abattoir business is booming.
Now, the racing organisation is considering supporting a new charity, Thoroughbreds Continued, that seeks to find new homes for retired racehorses, in order to save them from the knacker’s yard.
What’s so big deal about a horse finishing up at the knacker’s yard?
Especially a bloody horse that has let down punters by finishing up an also-ran.
We send cattle, sheep, deer, goats, hens, ducks, turkeys and other creatures to slaughter houses to be turned into tucker.
When did a failed race horse win the right to a better fate?
And why should the HoS be at all interested?
The rag goes on to say –
As part of a three-month investigation, the Herald on Sunday has spoken to six transport operators who truck thoroughbreds to the Clover Export Ltd abattoir in Gore. Clover is the only licensed meatworks exporting horse meat for human consumption.
Some operators are taking thoroughbreds all the way from Waikato to Southland in cattle trucks shared with sheep and goats. The trips can take days or weeks with stopovers in Tirau, Foxton, Bulls or Christchurch.
Is any concern being expressed here for the sheep and goats?
Not that Alf can see.
Moreover, as we learn from the following bit of the story, the horse-meat people are actually doing the nags a favour…
Bernie Hutton, a South Island-based horse transporter for 40 years, said he and others in the trade had been taking more thoroughbreds to Gore than ever before.
“Yes, they are often slaughtered very young due to the nature of the industry – but the other side of that is that young thoroughbreds do provide excellent meat for export,” he said. “And frankly, the way some of them are neglected, it seems a better fate for them.”
“In the last three months I’ve transported more thoroughbreds to Clover than I had done in three years.”
What strikes Alf as odd is that the horse owners are not cashing in on the business. They are giving the animals away.
North Island operator Russell Curtin said mum-and-dad racehorse owners had discovered they could no longer afford to feed and stable horses that weren’t winning races, and so they were giving them away as horse meat.
“You know, I’m glad to hear someone else talk about that,” Curtin said. “Thoroughbreds used to be in the minority, but the ‘giveaways’ on thoroughbreds in the last three to six months is staggering. It’s made me wonder what’s going on.”
It all boils down to economics, of course.
An unnamed South Island stockman said three out of five horses he took to Clover this year were thoroughbreds.
He said he believed the recession was a factor.
“But let’s not forget that the reason some owners and trainers choose the road to Gore rather than selling on or re-homing, is that they’ve shelled out $10,000, $20,000 or $30,000 on a young horse, trying in vain to get it to be a winner. They don’t want anyone else to get it later and reap the rewards.”
The recession, of course, has been a product of Clark Government incompetence exacerbated by overseas events.
So if you happen to be bothered about what is happening to the horses sent to Clover, blame Labour.
For their part, the Labour bunch might muse on what should be done to their leaders when they fail to come home a winner.
A slow trip to Clover?
As for the horse-meat business, Alf is left somewhat perplexed that Clover is sending good tucker overseas but – so far as he is aware – does not make it available for domestic consumption.
It’s a tasty treat (as he found at a restaurant in France).
He has been thoroughly riled much too often by backing horses that have teetered home some several hours after the winner galloped into first place.
It would be sweet revenge, on these occasions, if Alf could be sure he will be tucking into the no-hoper animal in the near future.