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Victorian suspension may be final hurdle for -

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Victorian suspension may be final hurdle for jumps racing

The World Today - Friday, 8 May , 2009 12:30:00

Reporter: Simon Lauder

PETER CAVE: The likelihood that a spectacular and dangerous form of horse racing may have reached
its last hurdle has elicited an emotional response from people who rely on the sport.

A dozen horses were killed after injuring themselves in jumps races in Victoria last year and this
season is off to a disastrous start.

In a move which many people believe is the end of the sport, Racing Victoria has suspended jumps
racing and the South Australian Government now wants the industry to come to a stop in that state.

But proponents say that banning jumps racing will lead to even more carnage.

Simon Lauder reports.

SIMON LAUDER: David Londregan is a former champion jumps jockey and his livelihood is still in the
sport. It's a livelihood he believes is under serious threat and as authorities deliberate on the
future of jumps racing, he's planning a dramatic protest.

DAVID LONDREGAN: Well I'm threatening to send a head or two around the countryside to the powers to
be and just to remind them what damage they are doing to our horses.

SIMON LAUDER: Mr Londregan trained seven horses for jumps races and without the sport he says they
would waste away in a paddock. He believes that would be inhumane.

DAVID LONDREGAN: (laughs) Well I'll just have to put a gun to their heads and shoot them all, well
not all of them but I'd say half of them would have to be put down, yeah, for the wellbeing of the
horse, I'm just going to have to do it, you know.

SIMON LAUDER: A dozen horses died or were put down mostly after breaking necks or legs in Victorian
jumps races last year, prompting a review of the industry.

RACE COMMENTATOR: As they come to the next hurdle, Danever (phonetic) running out and Cascade
(phonetic) down! Oh and he's brought Shrogenay (phonetic) undone!

SIMON LAUDER: Changes were made to the jumps, but this week has shown those changes haven't worked.

Three horses died during this week's Warrnambool Racing Carnival in the state's south-west, and two
in the previous fortnight.

The Victorian President of the RSPCA Dr Hugh Wirth says last year's review gave too much weight to
the economic benefits of jumps racing and the latest deaths show a ban is long overdue.

HUGH WIRTH: These jumps racing courses are becoming the killing fields. Animals are slaughtered in
front of a crowd.

SIMON LAUDER: Racing Victoria's CEO Rob Hines has ordered a suspension of jumps races and the
organisation's jumps review panel is preparing another report.

ROB HINES: As we stand here at Warrnambool, what a fantastic spectacle the race was and yet we
still had a disaster. So clearly it's very difficult and the board have got a lot of serious
matters to consider. But the incidents have been so serious this season that we have to have a good
hard look at it.

SIMON LAUDER: Jumps racing was banned in New South Wales about 12 years ago and the chairman of the
Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners' Association, David Moodie sees the suspension of the sport as the
death knell for jumps racing in Victoria.

DAVID MOODIE: This happens again down the track which we all know it will and I think we're
fighting a losing battle. The risk profile's just no longer acceptable socially and to the
community as a whole.

SIMON LAUDER: Now the pressure for a ban has spread beyond Victoria to the only other state where
people can bet on hurdling horses in Australia. Two horses have died at jumps races in Adelaide in
the past fortnight.

It's too much for South Australia's Racing Minister, Michael Wright.

MICHAEL WRIGHT: We think there should be a suspension of all jumps racing. This is a matter for
thoroughbred racing SA but because of what's happened both in South Australia and Victoria, we
believe that TRSA should conduct an immediate inquiry and while that inquiry is pending, we think
that jumps racing should be suspended.

SIMON LAUDER: Jumps racing fan and Channel 7 sports commentator Bruce McAvaney says the change to
easier jumps with synthetic brush tops may have done the industry more harm than good.

BRUCE MCAVANEY: Since they've tried to make the jumps smaller and in their, I guess opinion of the
officials, safer, it's turned out that we've had more deaths than ever. And it's got a lot to do
with the speed of the race, the bigger the jumps, the slower the horses go through.

SIMON LAUDER: Jumps racing has been a part of the Australian racing scene since the 1830s. Racing
Victoria will make an announcement on its future next week.

PETER CAVE: Simon Lauder reporting.