Jumps racing claims first horse since suspension

June 22, 2009

Jumps racing in Victoria has claimed its first horse since Racing Victoria lifted a suspension on the sport last month.

Whatsourgo broke a leg at the last hurdle in a race at Moonee Valley at the weekend.

The horse is the sixth to die in jumps racing in Victoria this year.

Animal welfare organisation Animals Australia said the death occurred despite changes made by Racing Victoria intended to make jumps racing safer.

"The death of Whatsourgo is proof that the measures introduced just one month ago by Racing Victoria to make 'jumps racing less hazardous' have totally failed," said Glenys Oogjes, executive director of Animals Australia.

"Jumps racing is still a recipe for disaster - the hazards are inherent when you force horses to gallop and negotiate obstacles

"Racing Victoria is placing the reputation of their entire industry at risk by continuing to support jumps racing.

"The community will not abide animals dying as part of a sport. They either take a stand and ban jumps racing to protect the image of racing, or face an ongoing PR disaster."

RSPCA Victoria president Dr Hugh Wirth said: "These horses are nothing more than sacrificial lambs being led to their death at the hands of Racing Victoria, the minister for racing and the Victorian premier.

"Allowing a horse to compete in a jumps race is not in any way in the best interest of the animal's welfare, but rather that of the almighty dollar."

The death of Whatsourgo will be referred to the Jumps Review Panel.

Racing Victoria suspended jumps racing on May 8 for a review following the deaths of two horses in a day at Warrnambool.

Little more than a week earlier, Animals Australia pointed out that four horses had died in four days across Victoria and South Australia - the only two Australian states that still stage jumps races.

Racing Victoria lifted its suspension after introducing changes but welfare groups condemned the decision, saying a series of changes over the years designed to make the sport safer had done little or nothing to reduce the death toll among horses.