Jump racing fans in Victoria, Australia, will have to travel out of state to watch the sport next year after it was this week announced that jumping has been banned.
The sport will be abolished in Victoria after the end of the 2010 season, after a spate of 20 horse deaths in the past two years.
Southern Australia is now the only Australian state to host jump races.
Racing Victoria Ltd (RVL) announced its decision to ban the sport yesterday (27 November) after undertaking a thorough review of the sport and implementing safety measures.
Eight horses have died this year and 12 were killed the season before.
The review found that falls in jumps racing have increased from 3.02% of total starters in 2008 to 5.08% in 2009.
It also found that 65% of Victorians surveyed believed that the incidents that occur in jumps racing are not an acceptable price to pay for the retention of the sport.
RVL Chairman Michael Duffy said that jumps racing had been an important contributor to the history and evolution of thoroughbred racing in Victoria for many years.
“This has been an extremely tough decision,” Mr Duffy said.
“After careful consideration, it is the RVL Board’s view that there is an inevitability about the long-term future of jumps racing and consequently, it is in the interests of all to provide some certainty and an appropriate transition to a Victorian racing industry without jumps racing.
“Despite the implementation of all of the safety recommendations of a report conducted in 2008, the incidence of falls and fatalities has continued to increase. The recommendations of six previous reviews had been implemented without any sustained reduction in incident rates.
“Over the coming months RVL will be working closely with the participants and clubs impacted by the decision to ensure an effective and smooth transition.
“The safety of riders and horses in all forms of racing is of paramount importance and we will continue to do whatever is reasonably practicable to make jumps racing less hazardous during its final year in 2010.”
Although a transition programme will be implemented for jockeys, trainers and stable staff, the Victorian jumps racing industry are in uproar.
President of Australian Jumping Racing Association Rodney Rae is holding committee meeting on Monday.
“This decision is unacceptable,” Mr Rae told local press. “It is not in the best interests of the Victorian racing industry and we believe the Racing Victoria Ltd board has failed to fulfil their responsibilities under their constitution and under the Corporations Act as well.”
Mr Rae added that despite numerous reviews, Racing Victoria Ltd’s board had failed to address the issues appropriately.