In a recent presentation to a racing audience Gerard Whateley made the distinction between racing as a sport and racing as an industry. He…
After recent incidents and deaths, a familiar question has been raised again: should jumps racing be banned in Australia?
The simple answer:? No. Now, why not?
The horses get a second chance, a “rebirth” over the jumps before their race careers are ended. Sure, accidents are going to happen, but that is a part of life, whether it be horse or human.
For example, a semi trailer collides with a family car on a highway, killing the driver of the family car. Should we ban vehicles? Or recently in Indonesia where a football player suffered internal bleeding and passed away due to a nasty unsuspecting collision with the opposing goalkeeper… should we then ban football?
Jumps racing was at a crossroads at one point and was banned by Racing Victoria in 2009, only for them to bring it back in 2010. Jumps racing had already steadily improved its safety for both horse and human, but since 2010 they have gone to greater lengths to protect its participants, and with great success.
Since 2005, the injuries and deaths count up to 0.9 per cent of horses starting. In equestrian in America alone, the death rate of humans riding is nearly 1.5 per cent, with over seven million people riding.
The noises for the ban of jumps racing have intensified in recent times, most notably thanks to horseracingkills.com aka the Coalition for the Protection Of Racehorses (CPR), along with The Project on Channel Ten. What doesn’t help their cause is reeling off incorrect and absurd statistics.
It was almost laughable on May 26 when The Project ran a piece on jumps racing and its future. They ran some footage, a majority of which came from 2008-2009 when jumps racing was at its worst, before they spoke to doctor Chris Brown.
“You’re talking about horses doing something quite extraordinary, often running twice the length of the Melbourne Cup, plus jump, say, 40 times during a race,” Dr Brown said.
Seriously? Twice the distance of the Melbourne Cup? Overseas, yes, but certainly not in Australia, and there is no jumps race in Australia that has 40 fences.
The only positive in The Project piece was co-host Gorgi Coghlan, who vigorously supported the jumps racing caper given she is from Warrnambool, the home of jumps racing in Australia. Radio personality Steve Price was blatantly calling for its banning despite having no grasp of facts.
The class and safety of jumps racing can be summed up by the recent carnival at Warrnambool. There were seven jumps races, 56 starters and no deaths, all of which ran on a very wet track.
So to all of the jumps racing protestors and naysayers, find another crusade, because the one you’re fighting here is unwinnable.