The validity of jumps racing is set to face another hurdle this week as South Australian Greens MP Tammy Franks moves to introduce a bill that would ban the sport in South Australia.
The bill is set to have major consequences on the Oakbank jumps meeting, which has been Australia’s largest picnic race meet since 1876.
However, Oakbank club president John Glatz remains confident the carnival will go ahead next year, saying he expects the South Australian parliament to give Franks’ bill ‘the short shift’.
“People have had a gutful of them (anti jumps campaigners), their arguments are ridiculous. I can’t see any political support for the proposed ban,” Glatz said.
“If Oakbank is such a turn off, why do 100,000 fans attend each year and why are the Great Eastern and Von Doussa (both jumps races) our highest turnover betting races?”
Franks on the other hand, who has led the campaign against jumps racing says ‘we’ve got all of the research from Victoria that shows that this is not a sustainable industry’.
South Australian RSPCA president Sheree Sellick weighed into the debate by claiming that a majority of people want the sport banned.
“Research shows people overwhelmingly are opposed to jumps racing and want it banned. The industry itself is being threatened because people are stopping going to races because of the jumps racing component,” she said.
In other jumps racing news the Victorian Government has endorsed recommendations that were handed down after a review into an incident at Warnambool earlier this year that saw two people injured after a runaway horse careered into a crowd.
Victoria’s racing minister David Napthine ordered the review after an 80 year old woman and a young boy were injured at the Warnambool festival after a horse became spooked and jumped into a spectator’s enclosure.
“The report provided to me by Racing Victoria emphasises the importance of not taking spectator safety for granted and making sure resources are continually put into maintaining safe racing facilities,” Napthine said.
The main recommendations to come out of the report are to educate racegoers about the risks of runaway horses and an annual inspection of all fences and barriers at Victorian race courses.
“Racing Victoria is confident that the proposed measures will further improve the comprehensive safety systems that are in place at each of the state’s racecourses and we look forward to working with the clubs to implement the recommendations,” said Racing Victoria Chief Executive Rob Hines.
The Victorian government has recently taken steps to support jumps racing in the state. Not only has the government pledged $8.85 million towards prize money, but they have also announced a $2 million funding package which will go towards purchasing new jumping obstacles at Victorian race clubs.