Our Position: Jumps racing is intrinsically dangerous and cruel to horses. It is the combination of jumping and racing that cannot be made safe. The only remedy for jumps racing is for it to be banned. This is CPR’s clear and nonnegotiable position.
When racing in a jumps race, the horse is confronted with the task of galloping at high speed and being forced to clear obstacles of considerable height, whilst 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 we see 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. Large numbers of deaths and injuries led to a decision at the end of the 2009 season by Racing Victoria, that the 2010 season would be the last. However, only 7 weeks after making the decision, Racing Victoria made a shock announcement that if jumps racing could meet three criteria relating to falls, fatalities and racehorses participation, that jumps racing would continue beyond 2010.
The criteria are known as the Key Performance Indicators (KPI):
- A reduction in the fall rate from 5% to 3% of starters.
- A reduction in the on-track death rate by half to 0.65% of starters.
- Increased racehorse participation: 80% of races must not have less than eight horses in a single race.
This decision attracted much controversy. RVL reaffirmed that all three criteria must be met for jumps racing to have any future. At the close of the 2010 season, the industry met only one of the three required criteria. Despite this, jumps racing was given a lifeline.
In 2021, what the industry deemed to be "safe" obstacles replaced the current design. Still, horses continued to fall and die.
Finally, in late 2022, South Australia amended the animal welfare act, making it illegal for jumps racing to continue in the state. Learn more here. Now, Victoria remains the only state in Australia to continue cruel jumps races.
As at 2023, jumps racing has failed to ever meet all three criteria.