Racing Victoria's board has unanimously resolved to continue with jumps racing in the state, despite a worrying run of fatalities.
However, a number of reforms will be introduced which it hopes will make the sport safer for horses and jockeys. Many will be implemented immediately.
The board said today (Monday) it had considered the issue in detail following the racetrack deaths.
It promised a full review at the end of the jumping season.
"The board received written and verbal submissions representing views from both sides of the jumps racing debate. The racing industry submissions were unanimous in support of jumps racing," said Racing Victoria chairman Michael Duffy.
The board said that after extensive consultation, in particular with jockeys and trainers, the board will adopt several recommendations from the Jumps Review Panel which it believes will make jumps racing safer.
The board said it understands that accidents will occur and the changes were aimed at making jumps racing less hazardous.
- Strand starts to be trialed in consultation with the Victorian Jockeys Association.
- All horses to be schooled in the presence of Stewards from June 1 before being permitted to participate in trials for the first time.
- New strict qualifying conditions for entry into premium jumps races with prize money of $A70,000 or more to be adopted from June 1 with the following policy: "A condition of entry for this race requires horses to carry a jumps rating of at least 115. The horse must also have either won a jumps race or been placed 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th in a jumps race other that a maiden jumps race. All entries are subject to AR50."
- Further and ongoing education of jumps riders regarding race tempo and their obligations under racing rules to retire a fatigued horse and the strict enforcement of the rule and imposition of appropriate penalties for any contraventions including suspension.
- The current final obstacle in all jumps races to be removed - the currently placed second last obstacle becomes the last.
- Protocols and standards to be implemented to conduct heart-rate checks of all horses after they complete their final qualification trial to ensure they are fit to race;
- Races beyond 3600 metres to be programmed to provide lead up races to feature jumps events including increasing the distance of the hurdle race scheduled for 25 July 2009 at Moonee Valley from 3200 metres to 3700 metres and the creation of a new 4000 metre race in the lead up to the Warrnambool Grand Annual.
"Jumps racing will be monitored on an ongoing basis. As was outlined in the Jones Report," Duffy said. "A full review of jumps racing will be conducted at the end of the 2009 jumps racing season.
"The board recognises that this issue divides some sections of the community and all these views are valid and respected. In making this decision the RVL Board is mindful of its primary obligation to the racing community and its stakeholders," Duffy said.