Adjournment: Jumps racing


Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) — My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Racing. On Wednesday by way of a members statement I raised the issue of the terrible events that witnesses at the Mosstrooper steeplechase race day in Bendigo on Sunday had to see. In a program of six events, as I said, seven horses fell, five of those in the very first two events. Twelve horses did not make it to the end of their races, three of which were 3.2 kilometres long and three of which were 3.6 kilometres long, including jumping hurdles and steeples. Something to Share did not make it out alive.

The stewards report of race 6, as I said, stated that the gelding made a 'faulty' jump at the 12th obstacle and suffered a catastrophic injury and then of course was euthanised on the track behind the green screen, a spectacle that is often seen at jumps racing events. The stewards report that also in that same race King Kamada was brought down — or 'bought down', as they said — by the stricken horse that later died. A vet examination revealed that that gelding had blood in both nostrils that was attributed to that trauma.

All in all, 14 horses were injured, five were described as lame, two had blood in the nostrils, one had a pulmonary haemorrhage and others had a range of injuries. All were referred to the vets for clearance. I wonder, though, how many of those will never be seen again, including horses that were declared as lame. Seventeen horses were referred to the jumps review panel including Something to Share, who was killed on the track.

This debacle also prompted claims from trainers and others that Racing Victoria had put the health and safety of horses at risk because of the hard track conditions. Racing Victoria had been warned two weeks before that the track was too firm. I agree that it has put profits before animal welfare. It ignored the advice and it did not, after the first two events where five horses fell and were injured, cancel the following four events, which saw more horses injured and one horse, Something to Share, killed.

Now, I wondered whether the Minister for Racing had said anything about it, so I checked his media releases. The most recent one was on 19 July, in which he talked about the Andrews Labor government investing in country racing to improve safety for jockeys and horses, but there was no mention of what happened in Bendigo. So the action I seek from the minister is to conduct an investigation into what happened in Bendigo last Sunday. Of course the Greens always call for an end to jumps racing, but I would like to see an investigation by the minister into those events.

REPLY on 22 August 2018:

As part of its 2014 platform, the Victorian Government made an election commitment to leave key decisions about the management and administration of thoroughbred racing to Racing Victoria (RV). This includes all decisions about jumps racing and the scheduling of races.

The safety and welfare of horses and jockeys is of great concern to the Victorian racing industry and the Government. As part of its commitment to safe and responsible racing, RV has adopted a number of safety improvements, including modification to the design of jumps, improved schooling and trialling requirements and stricter horse qualification standards.

I am advised that since the introduction of safety enhancements for the 2010 season, there has been an average of 2.5 fatalities per season in Victorian jumps racing to 2018. This is a significant improvement on the preceding period from 2002 to 2009 which averaged 8.4 fatalities per season. The Government and the industry are committed to further improvements.

There was an unusually high number of falls at the Bendigo race meeting on Sunday 22 July 2018. There were also a number of horses that were retired from their races.

The number of retirements is a direct result of rule changes and jockey education on the primacy of horse welfare over other considerations.

Local Rule of Racing 62(9)(a) requires a jockey to retire his or her horse from a race immediately if the horse is fatigued, distressed, or if continuing could increase the risk of the horse, or another horse in the race, falling.

RV's Jumps Review Panel, which was established to improve safety by actively monitoring all racing incidents, has reviewed each of the falls at the Bendigo meeting. RV will consider the findings of this review and decide whether any changes need to be made.