04 May 2011

RSPCA declares Warrnambool a "killing fields"

Scene from the Steeplechase: The Fallen Jockey,
1866, oil on canvas. Edgar Degas, 
Breedingracing.com reports: The RSPCA declared Warrnambool racecourse has become a "killing fields" after another horse died in the 1st jumps race on the opening day of its May carnival. Jockey Michelle Hagley was taken to Warrnambool Base Hospital "for observation" after her mount Shine The Armour crashed through the 2nd-last jump & died on the track. Monday's death was the third in Victoria this year and RSPCA Victoria president Dr Hugh Wirth, calling again for jumps racing to be banned in the state, told The Herald-Sun that horses died "with great frequency" at Warrnambool, emphasising: "Warrnambool, of course, is the killing fields for horses. That's how bad it is. Every time they do something at Warrnambool there are deaths." Similarly Animal Australia executive director Glenys Oogjes called for the remaining 2 days of the carnival (which combines flat & jumps racing) to be cancelled, adding: "This is an appalling outcome from the very first jumps race at Warrnambool. It must surely demonstrate again to the Victorian government that jumps racing is highly dangerous & cannot be made safe for horses or jockeys." However Australian Jumps Association president Rodney Rae retorted it was "impossible to completely eliminate fatalities" and noted: "Our objective is to manage the risk & minimise those incidents, because any industry that has animal participation in it, you are going to have incidents & fatalities from time to time. It's as simple as that. So they happen. It's upsetting, but we just have to get on with the job as it's part of an industry."

MEANWHILE Warrnambool's "famous May jumps carnival remains guaranteed for a minimum 2 more years, despite a horse fatality for the 3rd successive year yesterday" reported The Herald-Sun. Racing Victoria chief executive Rob Hines said the death of the horse & injury to jockey Michelle Hagley "concerns & saddens us", but confirmed RV's "continuing commitment to the sport". Hines commented: "Hurdle racing has a guaranteed 3 years before it is reviewed, to allow investment & confidence back in the sport. Steeplechasing will be reviewed at the end of this year. But this is not a risk-free sport. There will always be accidents. Our aim is to reduce the number of incidents & reduce the risk." And Victorian Racing Minister Denis Napthine added: "The Government fully supports RV's decision. Any fall is disappointing. I'm sure the circumstances will be thoroughly investigated."

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