The head of the Wellington Racing Club says protestors planning to picket Saturday's Wellington Cup are ill-informed.
Anti-horse racing activists say horses shouldn't suffer for the benefit of entertainment. Protesters will gather outside Wellington Racing Club on Saturday in hopes of raising awareness of how "cruel" the industry can be.
Campaign manager Frances Baker says they're "urging racegoers to think twice about attending a racing event".
"If you care about animals, you probably shouldn't go to the races."
Ms Baker says owners don't care about their animals' welfare.
"Racehorses will often sustain injuries that render them uncompetitive, and if you can't turn a profit there's every chance you'll… become dogfood."
But Al Robertson, head of the Wellington Racing Club, says the sport is in a horse's nature.
"The thing that people do not understand about horses is that when they run, they actually want to win - and they do it all by themselves."
Members of the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses will gather outside the Wellington Cup from 10am.
Ms Baker says race horses are bred into a lifestyle that isn't natural to them
"They can be stabled for up to 22 hours a day. On the racecourse they're whipped and forced to run for their lives."
According to the group's Facebook page, the protesters want to put an end to:
- horses being slaughtered
- jumps racing
- the use of whips
- and two-year-old racing.
Mr Robertson says some protestors won't have been near the horses they're claiming to support.
More than 15,000 people are expected to attend the Wellington Cup, which will be presented to the winning jockey around 5pm by Blackcaps star Kane Williamson.
Wellington Cup organisers have been contacted for comment.
The protest comes amid renewed debate over whether rodeo events should be banned.