Minister must take responsibility over race deaths, says RSPCA

July 30, 2009

The RSPCA, angered by Saturday's death of Geeorb in a jumps race, has called on Victoria's racing minister to take leadership on the issue.

"It is painfully obvious from Racing Minister Rob Hull's lack of interest in all eight deaths in jumps racing this season, that he is unwilling to take a stand in the name of animal welfare," the RSPCA said.

"It is now time for the Victorian community to really show Minister Hulls that this will not be tolerated."

The Victoria branch of the RSPCA called on the state community to take a stand against jumps racing, and the government for allowing it to continue.

Geeorb fell and broke his shoulder at the second-last jump at Moonee Valley, while leading the 4050-metre Hiskens Steeplechase. The eight-year-old, considered one of the best jumpers in the state, was put down on the track.

"Again, the latest death has been set to be reviewed by the Jumps Racing Panel - made up of Racing Victoria officials. The same members who allowed jumps racing to continue after the horrific deaths at the Warrnambool Racing Carnival in May."

The chances of Racing Victoria board members taking a stand against jumps racing at this meeting look slim to none, it said.

The RSPCA said Racing Victoria was established to promote and run horse racing in the state.

"Why would a minister ask such a body to consider the future of jumps racing? A ban would go against the stated objectives of RVL and a review by stakeholders with an economic interest is certainly not objective.

"Surely the decision to ban jumps racing must now sit with the Minister? The RSPCA needs the support of the community to make him see that jumps racing no longer has a place in our society."

About one in 24 horses that started a jumps racing event in 2008 was killed on the racetrack, the RSPCA said. "Even more alarmingly, it is estimated one in four horses sustained injuries during the same season and have not been seen on the track again.

"The odds that a horse will die or be seriously injured are better than those a punter could expect to be paid by a bookmaker."

Fatal injuries so far this season have ranged from broken necks to snapped shoulder joints.

"The Racing Minister really must take leadership of the issue. Any more horses that are injured or euthanased in the name of this cruel sport are now on his conscience, and ultimately our Victorian Premier's.

"Clearly, RVL cannot be relied upon to make a decision on jumps racing's future as, clearly, an objective decision will not be made by this body.

"Minister Hulls, Premier Brumby, isn't it about time you gave these horses a voice and protected them against this legalised cruelty?"

The RSPCA says it will not rest until jumps racing is permanently banned in Victoria.