Decision today on future of jumps racing in Victoria

May 18, 2009

Racing Victoria will announce today whether jumps racing has a future in the state.

It will make its decision known at 3pm (5pm New Zealand time).

Jumps racing in Victoria was suspended on May 8 after the deaths of two horses that day at a meeting at Warrnambool.

Its board met last week and received submissions from stakeholders and interested parties, as well as its Jumps Review Panel. The board said it needed more time to consider the submissions.

Some of the submissions are believed to include proposed changes to make the sport safer, including abolishing barrier stall starts and doing away with the last jump.

Five horses have died at jumps racing events in the state this year, including three at Warrnambool, one at Yarra Valley and one in a hurdle trial event at Cranbourne.

Deputy Premier and Racing Minister Rob Hulls said after the May 8 fatalities that the recent spate of deaths had horrified many Victorians.

"I have always maintained that the death of any horse is not an acceptable by-product of racing and the rate of deaths so far this season is unsustainable," Hulls said.

Horse welfare groups have been calling for a jumps ban.

Animals Australia executive director Glenys Oogjes said: "The [state] government can no longer ignore the carnage."

The group says jumps racing is 10 to 20 times more dangerous to horses than flat racing. It said 13 horses died on the track last year in Victoria, and seven had died within a fortnight this jumps season - five in Victoria and two in South Australia.

Victoria and South Australia are the only states that still run jumps racing.