Last week's incomprehensible announcement from Racing Victoria, which provided the cruel ‘sport' of jumps racing a three year reprieve in light of decreased rates of horse fatalities, has angered Humane Society International (HSI) among many other organisations concerned with animal welfare. The previous promise by Racing Victoria to ban the sport after the recently completed season if three key performance indicators were not met has been blatantly broken.
“To condone two horrific deaths and 14 falls by setting and then allowing flexibility of so called ‘standards' is absolutely unacceptable” said HSI director Verna Simpson. “Yes this season was an improvement on those of the recent past, but to put a figure of acceptability on the pain and suffering these horses are at risk of each and every race, serves no purpose other than the entertainment and vested financial interests of a small but vocal minority within the industry.”
South Australia and Victoria are the only States which currently permit this outdated practice, with other States recognizing the evident animal cruelty by implementing legislation making jumps racing illegal. Racing Victoria permitted last season's trial on the condition that figures of steeple and hurdle racing were combined under the more general heading of jumps racing. However during last week's announcement, the board deferred a decision on the future of steeplechase racing, after 2010 season figures failed to improve at the same rate as those relating to hurdle racing.
Racing Victoria's decision to allow the cruel sport of hurdling to continue after 42 deaths since 2005 can simply not be condoned. In conclusion, Verna Simpson noted that, “Jumps racing is the only sport in Australia where the death rates of competitors are factored into the season's performance, as if regular deaths were utterly acceptable to our modern society – what's wrong with this picture?"
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