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Jumps racing under scrutiny after bad falls at Bendigo

Footage of the fall in the Mosstrooper Steeplechase at Bendigo. (Photo: racing.com)
Expert
22nd July, 2018
6

Racing can be its own worst enemy at times, highlighted by some horrific falls at Bendigo on Sunday.

This won’t be an anti-jumps racing column. I believe there is a place for jumps racing in Australia, but not at any cost.

Firstly, let’s look at what happened.

Across six jumps races at Bendigo, seven horses fell. Those falls occurred in three races. In the main event, the Mosstrooper Steeplechase, three jockeys were dislodged and two horses fell at the second last obstacle.

Sadly, one of those horses had to be euthanised. It was Something To Share, a 10-year-old gelding, who happened to be the cause of the carnage in the Mosstrooper.

He looked like he was going to be a winning chance heading over the penultimate fence, but stumbled with Braidon Small in the saddle.

That triggered a chain reaction, which brought King Kamada to the turf and dislodged Adebe to the ground.

Earlier, there were five falls on the first two races on the card. All horses escaped serious injury.

Outspoken trainer Bryce Stanaway said the track at Bendigo was too firm.

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“I actually put the full blame today of any horse that falls on (Racing Victoria),” he said.

“They’re slipping on top of hard ground. It’s not the horses’ fault. We’ve got good horsemen here today, there’s good jockeys, very good trainers and good horses and this shouldn’t be happening.

“I told them two weeks ago that this meeting shouldn’t be held here.”

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The track was rated a soft 5 at the start of the day and upgrade to good 4 before race three.
Racing Victoria will say that the rating of the track was OK under the guidelines. And that would be correct.

But I believe the track was too firm for a jumps racing meeting. I’m not qualified to say that was the cause behind the falls, but it makes sense for horses to be landing on a surface with a little bit of give.

The jumps racing season has been stellar in 2018 and was probably one of the safest I can recall.

Racing will be able to overcome this hurdle, but it must be proactive in addressing the issue.

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The RSPCA has been waiting for a day like Sunday to pounce on. Activists will relish what happened. The racing industry, particularly Racing Victoria, has worked hard to make jumps racing as safe as possible, but must hold an inquiry as to what happened on Sunday.

And it also must look forward.

I have said for years that racing will be under constant pressure going forward because of the changing world we live in.

The use of the whip has been heavily restricted in recent years. How long until it goes completely? How long can jumps racing survive in the current climate? No one really knows.

But it’s inevitable that both the whip and jumps racing will be extinct at some point in the future. It might be another 50 years away, but it will happen.

Racing’s biggest challenge is to keep up with the times and embrace change and work with the public’s demands. It shouldn’t pander to the extreme, but instead, understand that the demographic is changing and the new generation refuses to accept any kind of animal cruelty.

I don’t believe jumps racing is cruel and I don’t believe responsible use of a padded whip is cruel.

But I’m not the problem. The problem is people 20 years younger than me and they are entitled to hold their view.

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Good response to Meech article
If you didn’t see my piece about Linda Meech on Saturday, click here and take the time to have a read.

It was pleasing to see the likes of Michelle Payne and Clare Lindop comment on the article.

Both said to me that there was an issue in the racing industry in regards to women getting opportunities at the elite level.

Trainer Fran Houlahan said that women had to work twice as hard to get the opportunities that men get.

It’s an issue that won’t go away and I look forward to more discussions in the future.

Saturday highlights
There wasn’t much to get excited about on Saturday, but Damian Lane’s four winners was a top effort. He will now win the Victorian premiership and the metropolitan premiership.

Sydney hoop Brenton Avdulla also signed off for the season. He’s going to ride in Japan, but not before a small holiday.

Avdulla will win the Sydney jockey premiership after knocking up 167 winners for the season.

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How we went
Of the five selections picked on Friday morning, only three ran around after two were scratched.

So Splendid was extremely plain and the betting drift suggested that would be the case. It was a similar story with Ducimus, who blew like a gale in betting and didn’t really get near it.

We did have a winner when Sixties Groove saluted, but he ended up being reasonably short. So it was a day that resulted in a small loss, but no real damage was done.

Total spend in 2018: $326*
Total return in 2018: $433*

* Based on $20 spend per selection and CrownBet’s top tote dividend.

What’s on this Saturday
Rosehill (NSW), Caulfield (VIC), Doomben (QLD), Belmont (WA), Morphettville (SA), Darwin (NT).