On SUNDAY, April 22, jumps racing makes a return to Dowling Forest.
Jumps racing is intrinsically dangerous and cruel to horses. It is the combination of jumping and racing that cannot be made safe.
The horse, when racing in a jumps race, is confronted with the task of galloping at high speed and being forced to clear obstacles of considerable height, while being surrounded by a group of other horses attempting the same.
To avoid injury or death the horse must clear each obstacle with an accuracy which is difficult when galloping at speed.
As horses fatigue, it becomes more difficult to properly negotiate the obstacles. That is why there are such a high percentage of falls occurring in the latter stages of a race.
Jumps racing is statistically 20 times more dangerous than flat racing.
Jumps racing has been controversial for many years, yet despite much opposition, it continues. The recent spate of deaths and injuries serves to bring this fact to light.
In Australia, jumps racing dates back more than 150 years. The opposition to the sport dates back almost as far, with the first Australian protest being held in Sydney in 1848.
Since that time, all but two states in Australia have dropped jumps racing � Victoria and South Australia are the only two states which still conduct jumps races.
The industry itself is minute compared to the broader racing industry.
The industry in 2010 consisted of fewer than 30 jockeys, 70 trainers and 170 horses, all of which have been in steady decline over the past decade.
Since 2001 there have been five reviews (2001, 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2010) of jumps racing commissioned by Racing Victoria Ltd.
Each review implemented several safety changes but they have made little or no difference to the fall and fatality rate. In short, they failed.
It is a commonly held view that the conduct of jumps racing constitutes animal cruelty.
The only remedy for jumps racing is for it to be banned. Yet, in their questionable wisdom, the powers that be in Ballarat have made the decision to resuscitate this beleaguered activity.