Ban The ChaseI think it is time that Jump Racing is outlawed.

I will not call it “steeplechasing” as I am yet to see the steeple they are supposedly chasing in any footage. (Although historically the Church Steeple was the finish line.)

I never really had a position on this issue before but this Saturday, April 7th’s, death of the Ten-year-old gelding Virvacity is the catalyst behind this blog.

Virvacity was competing at Adelaide’s Oakbank Racing Club and, after stumbling on landing, broke its shoulder then was subsequently euthanised.

Virvacity April 12

Apparently another horse fell in the race but its fate is not known at this stage.

This follows closely on the hoofs(sic) of the previous death, just nine days before (March 29, 2012), of Nine-year-old gelding New Zealand born Jotilla who had to be euthanised after injuring a shoulder at Victoria’s Sandown race track.

What sealed it for me was a quote from the Oakbank Racing Club chairman John Glatz. Mr Glatz says “steeplechasing” actually saves more horses in the long run. He is quoted as saying “A lot of these horses that do finish up in the jumping field are horses would quite necessarily not be with us because, you know, they’re flat failures or not, not accustomed to flat racing”.

“These horses are bought cheaply and the fate of those horses is probably to be put down if some of these owners didn’t pick them up.”

This, at least to me, comes across as ‘because these animals are otherwise worthless we may as well make them endure this dangerous form of racing’.

If you are going to own a horse, as with any dog, cat, bird or other living creature you should be responsible for this animal for its life. There is no acceptable reason to euthanase an animal because it has ‘out-lived’ its use.

If this is how you feel then you have out-lived your usefulness and should yourself be euthanased.

There is a debate raging on both sides of the rail between the gambling industry and the various animal welfare organisations. South Australian Greens MP Tammy Franks has called for a ban on the sport. “If the industry cannot self-regulate to stop the carnage then perhaps the courts will” she said in a statement.

Barristers Animal Welfare Panel (BAWP) chairman Graeme McEwen said yesterday responsibility for jumps racing, which has a significantly increased rate of fatalities among the horses, lay with the Victorian and South Australian governments. “The question is not whether it is cruel or not, it is whether there’s such a high risk of death or injury to the horse that the event should be banned,” he said. “Statistics point conclusively (to) a high risk of death or injury.”

Victorian Minister for Racing, Dr Denis Napthine, has stated that Racing Victoria is responsible for deciding the future of the sport. He called it a “disappointing” start to the season but says he is looking forward to a “positive” jumps season. Dr Napthine says he and the Coalition Government continue to support jumps racing.

South Australia’s Minister for Recreation and Sport, Tom Kenyon, is quoted as saying he “…did not think jumps racing was cruel and the government did not have control over management of the sport.”

Is the return on gambling so important to the economy and the coffers the Victorian and South Australian government that we can allow the continued endangering of this animal?

I don’t think so.

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