Jumps racing banned

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Key stakeholders from Australian horse racing have been left devastated by Racing Victoria Limited's (RVL) decision to scrap jumps racing from the end of 2010, with the decision described as a hammer blow to the industry's grass roots.

RVL announced on Friday 27 November that all jumps racing would cease at the end of the 2010 season, bringing an end to a sport which has been a part of Victorian history for 150 years. Margaret Lucas, chairwoman of the Warrnambool Racing Club, fears the decision will devastate the famous Warrnambool May Carnival, the biggest festival of racing in Victoria which brings over 30, 000 people to the seaside city. Jumps racing, and in particular the Grand Annual Steeplechase, the longest jumps race in Australia, is the centrepiece of the carnival, and Lucas said the club fears that this decision could signal the end of the famous meetings in the foreseeable future. She said: " We haven't had it in our planning that this decision would be made. We don't know where the carnival will stand in a future without jumps racing. We are all stunned by this decision. " RVL has offered Warrnambool Racing Club A$1m ($904, 000) to keep the famous carnival alive, but Lucas sees that as little more than a token gesture. Lucas said she had attended five jumps racing reviews over the past eight years and had never felt that the sport would be banned. She said she and the jumps industry feel insulted by the assumption that jumps racing contributed little to Victoria racing. " The excuse that it doesn't contribute is hard to take. Jumps racing has a long history and we believe that it is an insult to say that it's not contributing, " she said. Lucas expects that the industry stakeholders, led by the Australian Jumps Racing Association, will hold a 'war cabinet' in the coming days to determine if any further action can be taken. Racing Minister Rob Hulls, an opponent of jumps racing, who had left its fate in the hands of RVL, backed the decision. " The RVL board has been best placed to review jumps racing and take into account the views from all sides of the debate, " Hulls said. " It has made a decision that is designed to ensure the ongoing viability of the entire racing industry, including protecting the health and welfare of jockeys and horses. " The decision means that South Australia is the only state in Australia where jumps racing will not be banned. Thoroughbred Racing SA said it was disappointed in the decision and didn't plan to follow suit. But chairman Philip Bentley said the decision would have major ramifications for the South Australian jumps racing industry in the next few years. " The decision of RVL will go down in history as the beginning of the end of a proud tradition, " Bentley said. " Jumps races have been a part of the thoroughbred industry almost from its inception, and now the leaders of the heartland of jumps racing have said after 2010 there will be no more. This decision is most regrettable and is not a moment to be proud of. However, Thoroughbred Racing SA does not intend to copy the Victorian decision. It is the responsibility of Thoroughbred Racing SA to support its industry and we will continue to do so. " About The Sport Briefing This story has been reproduced with the kind permission of The Sport Briefing. The Sport Briefing is published by PA Sport and can be found at: www. thesportbriefing. comThe Sport Briefing is updated as and when news happens, from across the global business of sport. The industry's biggest stories have an accompanying email alert, and The Sport Briefing sends subscribers a daily digest to give them an easy–to–read overview of the day's main events. Contact rory. squires@thesportbriefing. com for more information.

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