Melbourne Cup organisers are reportedly struggling to coax celebrities to appear next to horses in promotional material for the race, weeks after an explosive exposé revealed the slaughter of former racehorses in Queensland and NSW.

Citing an unnamed source with ties to race organisers, The Sunday Telegraph reports the typically prestigious event had its reputation tarnished by a 7.30 investigation which found breeding horses just so you can whip them around a dirt circle is a bit weird many former racehorses still face grisly ends upon retirement.

“It has been a nightmare for organisers trying to secure a celebrity who will pose with a horse to promote the event,” the source claimed.

“There is genuine concern about the treatment of the horses and most are worried about the online backlash they will receive from trolls.”

Of course, the issues actually started well before the ABC broadcast.

Taylor Swift famously retracted her planned performance at Flemington Racecourse citing scheduling conflicts, but many Swifties also expressed serious discomfort at the idea of her singing at Australia’s ritual flog-a-thon.

The Victoria Racing Club last week announced it has found a replacement act but has refused to reveal who will take to the stage. A Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses spokesperson told AAP they believed the VRC wanted to stay mum for fears the replacement act could be convinced to drop their performance, too.

Elsewhere, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before star Lana Condor has pulled out of a scheduled appearance at the Bumble marquee, also citing scheduling conflicts. The dating app also pledged $130,000 to Racing Victoria’s Off The Track horse welfare initiative.

And Aussie model Megan Gale, whose movements at Flemington Racecourse were once big news to people who cared more about marquee schmoozing than the race itself, said she would not attend in 2019 due to animal welfare concerns.

Whether this miniature revolt against the race sticks around is yet to be seen, but police will reportedly be out in force today during the traditional Melbourne Cup Parade. Wouldn’t want people drawing attention to the intrinsic cruelty of the sport, would we?

Image: Kevin Mazur / Getty Images