October 13, 2009 / 8:52 AM / 10 years ago

'Midget Cup' race at Australian meet slammed

Indian athletes Barkath Ali (L) and Derada More prepare for the final of the 100 meter sprint at the World Dwarf Games in Belfast, July 27, 2009. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian horse racing officials have been slammed for holding a dwarf racing competition called the ‘Midget Cup’ at a meeting in Melbourne to promote Victoria state’s annual carnival.

The race at the Cranbourne Cup on Sunday involved three men charging down a 50-metres course with dwarfs dressed in jockey silks riding piggyback, and has been denounced by government officials and advocacy groups.

“Well look, there’s often a fine line between a bit of fun and a silly stunt and I think this falls into the latter category,” Victorian racing minister Rob Hulls told state radio.

“I mean the Midget’s Cup for goodness sake. It’s certainly no way of promoting this great Spring Carnival right around the world, right around Australia and right throughout Victoria.”

The controversy comes days after an Australian talent show came under fire for airing a comedy troupe skit involving dancers wearing afro wigs and black-painted faces to impersonate late pop star Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5.

Stuart Laing, a marketing manager at Racing Victoria, said the dwarf race was intended to be “harmless fun”, but apologised and said it would not be repeated.

“We understand that you can’t please everyone and if anyone’s offended by the events of Sunday then we apologise to them,” he said.

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