Racing Victoria playing a dangerous game of chance
Yet another horse has died during a jumps race in Victoria, marking the third death this season in Victoria alone. Shine the Armour fell and died instantly during the first race of the first day of Warrnambool’s Grand Annual Steeplechase carnival.
“This marks the third death in Victoria this season. A season which was never meant to occur in Victoria after Racing Victoria previously decided to end jumps racing after the 2010 season” said Rebecca Keeble, Senior Program Manager at Humane Society International.
HSI is one of many animal welfare organisations that is again calling on Racing Victoria to stop playing such a dangerous game of chance with the lives of both horses and jockeys and ban jumps racing in Victoria once and for all.
Despite previously evoking a ban in January 2010, by September, Racing Victoria had overturned that it’s decision and given the jumps racing industry another 3 year reprieve if key performance indicators were not met. While Racing Victoria has been working over the past few years to implement new measures to reduce risks and injuries, horses continue to die.
“There is no coincidence here. Every year there are deaths. It is impossible to completely eliminate the incidence of death in jumps racing” Ms Keeble said “Jumps racing is the only sport in Australia where the death rates of competitors are factored into the season’s performance, as if regular deaths were utterly acceptable in this day and age.”
South Australia and Victoria are the only States which currently permit this outdated practice, with other States recognising the evident animal cruelty by implementing legislation making jumps racing illegal.
This year’s season has already seen three deaths in Victoria alone –
- Shine the Armour fell and died instantly on the first race of the opening day of the Grand Annual Steeplechase carnival, Warrnambool, May 3.
- Squire Rex was euthanised after falling on a jump at a trial race in Cranbourne, April 19.
- Casa Boy, euthanised following injuries suffered in a second race of the Victorian Jumps season on April 4th in Warrnambool.
Following a spate of incidents where three horses died during the Warrnambool Carnival in May 2009, Racing Victoria suspended jumps racing for two weeks while the industry pondered its fate. Assailed by pressure from within the jumps racing fraternity, Racing Victoria decided to allow it to continue, and announced a number of regulations that they claimed would make the sport “less hazardous”.
Then in early 2010, Victorian Racing Minister, Rob Hulls, stated his concern in the media over the welfare of horses in jumps racing, and commented that the death count was making it increasingly unsustainable. Ultimately though, decisions on the future of jumps racing have been left to Racing Victoria, and thus this deadly pursuit, under the guise of sport, continues.
The conclusion of the 2010 jumps racing season has coincided with a review by the Racing Victoria Board. Unfortunately, despite continued deaths in the 2010 season and a decision in January 2010 to end jumps races in Victoria after the current season, the Board determined to continue with a three year program of hurdle racing and a one year program for next year’s steeplechase racing season, both subject to Key Performance Indicators.
The KPI’s include:
1. A reduction in the fall rate from 5% to 3% of starters.
2. A reduction in the on-track death rate by half to 0.65% of starters.
3. Increased racehorse participation: 80% of races must not have less than 8 horses in a single race