Thursday, May 7, 2009

AU: Victorian jumps races suspended after more deaths

May 7, 2009 - 5:05PM

Pride of Westbury died after this fall at Warrnambool yesterday, one of three horses to die in the past two days in Victorian jump races.
Photo: Liss Ralston

AdvertisementJumps racing in Victoria has been suspended immediately pending a review of the sport, with a decision on its future to be made by the Racing Victoria Limited (RVL) Board next week.

RVL CEO Rob Hines said the decision to bring forward the review was prompted after three fatalities in two days at Warrnambool's famous three-day May carnival.

Topweight Clearview Bay had to be put down after falling at the fourth last fence of the gruelling Grand Annual Steeplechase run over 5500m and 33 fences.

The nine-year-old suffered the same fate as the Robbie Laing-trained Pride Of Westbury, who fell at the last jump and died in the Galleywood Hurdle on Wednesday, while his stablemate Hassle had to be put down after shattering a sesamoid in a hurdle earlier on Thursday.

"The RVL Board has decided we need to have an urgent review of jumps racing,'' Hines said after the running of the Grand Annual.

"We have asked the Jumps Review Panel to make a report to the board by early next week on the season so far and on all the incidents that have occurred.

"The RVL Board will be having an urgent board meeting next week and making a decision on the future of jumps racing and making a statement next week.''

Hines said the three jumps events at Moe on Sunday would all be converted to jumpers' flats or highweights.

"I don't want to pre-empt what the RVL Board do, but the incidents have been so serious this season that we have to have a good hard look at it, but we need our experts, the Jumps Review Panel, to have a look at it and put the information together,'' he said.

Hines said the panel, formed as a result of the David Jones review last year, would look at issues such as were the horses going too fast and whether the jumps were too small.

"What a fantastic spectacle the race (Grand Annual) was and yet we still had a disaster,'' he said.

"So, clearly, it's very difficult and the board have got a lot of serious matters to consider.''

Hines said the number of fatalities would have to be lower than the 12 of last year.

Already there have been five this year.

"We cannot continue at the rate we are at the moment,'' Hines said.

"I think the outlook is difficult but let us do the review and we'll have a position for you in a week.''


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