Jumps Racing future hangs in the balance

Victoria and South Australia are the only two remaining states, in Australia, that still feature jumps racing events. Last year, jumps racing was brought to a halt pending new recommendations in regard to the number of fatalities suffered by equine athletes, but now, the entire sport for these two states is hanging in the balance and depending the outcome, it could see the end of jumps racing in Australia altogether. Emotions ran high this week as Racing Victoria sat down to discuss the future of the sport.

In the last month there have been six fatalities, causing authorities to relook the entire sport. Hanging Rock was the first jumps racing victim on 26 April 2009, followed by Shrogginey on 23 April 2009, Taken At the Flood and Wool Zone 25 April 2009, Pride of Westbury 6 May and Hassle on 7 May 2009. This shocking string of bad luck has cast a shadow over the jumps racing industry, seeing trainers and jockeys stand together to try and save the sport.

The debate over horse racing, may it be flat horse racing or jumps racing, has always been an emotional battle. But it seems that when there are hurdles involved, things do get a bit more complicated. The Racing Victoria board has been reviewing the recommendations made, such as not starting the race in stalls, taking away hurdles and replacing it will steeplechases and to remove the last obstacle in the race so that horses do not have to navigate a last obstacle before the finish line. All these factors are being looked at, but the board has announced that their final decision will only be made next week due to the complexity and seriousness of this sport. The only countries still accommodating jumps racing is Ireland, New Zealand, England, the US and Japan. It seems that jumps racing is a dying sport. In the meantime, everyone in the jumps racing industry will be holding their breath to hear the final outcome, as it is almost certain that should Victoria ban jumps racing, South Australia will follow suit and bring the end of an era to close.