Australian Steeplechase Racing Faces Crisis With Horse Deaths

The fate of steeplechase racing in Australia is coming under fire again as three horses have died in one week of jump racing at the Warrnambool May Racing Carnival. According to news sources that makes seven horses that have died or been euthanized so far this season over jumps, and it's early in the season.

The deaths caused a suspension of steeplechase racing in the Australian state of Victoria earlier this week. Victoria is one of the few places steeplechase racing is held in Australia.

One trainer was quoted in of threatening if steeplechase racing were banned that he would cut the heads off his horses and send them to the politicians who banned the sport. The South Australia Racing Minister has stated he does not want to ban steepechase racing, just make it safer

For a history of jump racing and previous bans in Australia visit

An article in The Standard quoted the racing minister in Victoria as saying industry review of jump racing has failed.

There are many in the industry who say if jump racing in banned then "hundreds of horses will be homeless," according to an article on

According to an Associated Press article: "Steeplechase and hurdle racing was suspended Thursday (May 7) in Australia's Victoria state after the deaths of three horses in two days at the Warrnambool May Racing Carnival. The deaths raised the toll to seven horses needing to be euthanized in less than two weeks in jumps racing in the state."

"The Warrnambool meeting features the Grand Annual, the longest Thoroughbred race in the country, with 33 jumps over 3.4 miles.

"The RVL board has decided we need to have an urgent review of jumps racing," Racing Victoria chief executive Rob Hines said after the running of the Grand Annual.

"We have asked the Jumps Review Panel to make a report to the board by early next week on the season so far and on all the incidents that have occurred. The RVL Board will be having an urgent board meeting next week and making a decision on the future of jumps racing and making a statement next week."

Hines said the number of fatalities would have to be lower than the 12 of last year.

"We cannot continue at the rate we are at the moment," Hines said. "The outlook is difficult but let us do the review and we'll have a position for you in a week."

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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