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2016 Jumps Racing Season starts soon….

The RSPCA strongly opposes jumps racing. These horses are under-performers in flat races yet they are not allowed to retire. Instead, they are subjected to a dangerous sport where they are required to jump over high fences at high speeds, while running long distances. As a result, jumps horses are highly susceptible to horrific falls, injuries and death.

Sadly, Victoria is preparing for another jumps racing season in 2016, and to our surprise, Racing Victoria (RV) has boosted the prize money, from last season, by $500,000!

According to RV’s media release, dated 23rd December 2015, a total of $3.51 million in prize money will be on offer across 63 jumps races with a split of 42 hurdle races and 21 steeplechase races.

And that’s not all, RV have also created a feature two-day jumps carnival at Sportsbet-Ballarat on August 20th and 21st, that will incorporate an international jockey challenge, with leading riders from Ireland invited to attend.

RV states in this media release that they are increasing their commitment to jumps racing in Victoria ‘off the back of significant improvements in its safety record over the past five years’.

The number of horses killed each year may have declined in the past four to five years,  however any horse that has to senselessly die due to this cruel sport is one too many. During the 2015 season five horses died; four in Victoria and one in South Australia.

Jumps racing - the issue

Jumps racing is an extremely dangerous sport in which horses must jump high fences, at high speed. It has been reported that jumps races, which are normally run over greater distances than flat races, are ten times more dangerous than flats racing. Jumping places both the jockey and horse under immense pressure and at high risk of injury.

In a jumps race there is a one in 14 chance of injury and a one in 116 chance of death for the racehorse. 

There are two types of jumps races in Victoria - hurdles and steeplechases. A hurdles event is run over a distance of between 3000 and 3500 metres. A steeplechase event is run over a longer distance, usually between 3500 and 5500 metres. The obstacles in steeplechase races (fences) are also taller than hurdles. 

Jumps horses are not bred for jumping

The horses that compete in jumps races in Victoria are usually retired or failed flat race horses. These horses are entered in jumps races to extend their racing lives and to recoup money spent on their early careers. Sadly this money is put ahead of the horse's welfare.

One of the most famous and dangerous jumps racing events in Victoria is the Grand Annual Steeplechase in Warrnambool. This race is run over a distance 5,500 metres and 33 fences. It's not surprising that this and other similar races at Warrnambool have claimed the lives of many jumps horses. This race alone is 2,300 metres longer than the Melbourne Cup, with horses jumping obstacles all the way to the finish line.

Jumps racing shouldn't be the graveyard for former flat racers. The racing industry has a responsibility to ensure that horses that are bred for racing live a long and good life after their racing careers have ended. The welfare of horses should not be compromised because the horses are not fast enough for conventional flats racing.

* Based on calculations from wagering during the 2011 jumps racing season.


Jumps racing has been slowly phased out, deemed unacceptable or classified as cruelty in all states of Australia except Victoria and South Australia.
  • Queensland: banned in 1903.
  • New South Wales: became a criminal offence in 1997.
  • Tasmania: ceased in 2007 due to high costs and lack of interest. 
  • Western Australia, ACT, Northern Territory: it has never been a major part of the racing scene despite attempts to introduce it.
In 1991 a Federal Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare recommended the phasing out of jumps racing in all states over three years. Sadly key decision makers ignored this recommendation with fatal consequences.

Horses continued to be injured in jumps races and it was not until many horses had died, including three horses at the 2009 Warrnambool Racing Carnival, that Racing Victoria Limited (RVL) suspended jumps racing across the state.
Sadly, just seven weeks later, RVL then bowed to industry pressure to resume this cruel sport with the introduction of Key Performance Indicators. Tragically, five more horses died that season.

Pro-jumping arguments

The industry regularly touts that jumps racing is a good, wholesome, economically viable sport that is invaluable to Victorian society. The RSPCA absolutely disputes these claims maintains that jumps racing puts horses at an unacceptably high risk of injury and even death.

Skip to:
It's all about tradition
The industry has made significant safety improvements
Horses love to jump
The alternative for these horses is the knackery
The 'spectacle' of jumps racing
Jumps racing creates significant employment

It's all about tradition

Jumps racing supporters say that the sport is part of Australia’s proud horse racing tradition. However, tradition can never be used to justify cruelty towards animals. In Australia, jumps racing has never been a part of the mainstream racing scene outside of Victoria or South Australia. Even in these states it forms a small percentage of the races run.

If you accept this argument, it could just as easily be argued that activities such as dog or cock fights (which are not acceptable sports in Australia) are also ‘traditional’ in some societies and should therefore be allowed.

The industry has made significant safety improvements

Over many decades, the industry has been given the opportunity to make jumps racing safer for horses and jockeys alike. There have been multiple safety reviews, and these have included consultations with animal welfare bodies such as the RSPCA. However, despite these reviews and recommendations, and despite RVL claiming that jumps racing is the safest it’s ever been we continue to see horses die in the name of sport.

Forced to jump

Horses only jump obstacles at full gallop because they are forced to do so. 

Horses are intelligent animals with a high level of perception of their environment. If they approached an obstacle that required jumping over in the natural environment, the horse’s reaction would be to slow down, assess the obstacle and adjust their gait accordingly. Survival instincts suggest that horses are unlikely to jump over obstacles at full speed and risk injury or death. Most horses losing their riders during jumps races (which happens frequently) choose to run around hurdles and steeples rather than to continue jumping.

Horses are not evolved to be natural jumpers as they have:
  • Laterally placed eyes which restricts forward vision and their ability to judge the distance and position of an approaching obstacle at speed.
  • Heavy frames which makes it difficult to lift their own weight over obstacles.
  • An inflexible spine which makes it physically difficult to compensate for jumping errors.
  • Long limbs which become extended when galloping, making it difficult to adjust stride as they approach jumps at high speed.
  • Jumps racing pushes horses far beyond their natural limits. It exposes these animals to a much higher risk of musculoskeletal injuries, physiological stress, other injuries and death when compared to flats racing.
Jumps racing pushes horses far beyond their natural limits. It  exposes these animals to a much higher risk of, musculoskeletal injuries, physiological stress, other injuries and death when compared to flat racing. 

The alternative for these horses is the knackery

A knackery is where horses and other animals are sent to slaughter. Sadly, most ex-race horses are sent to knackeries once their racing career has ended, with many not given an opportunity to be re-homed. Many people within the jumps racing industry claim that jumps racing saves horses from the knackery. Sadly, most trainers have already determined that their horse’s fate is the knackery and jumps racing merely delays in the inevitable. Even worse, the dangerous nature of jumps racing puts horses at a high risk of a slow and agonising death from a jumps-related fall.

In 2010 across Australia, 31,773 horses were trained to compete in horse racing events (Australian Racing Fact Book, 2010). Sadly for those competing in Victoria, the industry does not provide a widespread re-homing initiative that would offer them a life after racing. The RSPCA recommends that the Victorian thoroughbred racing industry follow the lead of Greyhound Racing Victoria who has implemented their highly successful Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP).


Media and resources

Below you will find links to articles, images and videos.
Please be aware that some of the videos and images may be distressing.

Jumps racing in the media

1 May 'Horrific' jumps fall at Warrnambool
29 March Nightmare start for jumps season 
29 March
Jumps season is only three minutes old and there is death on the track
2 April Jumps racing under scrutiny at Warrnambool
9 April
Death reignites call for jumps racing ban
10 April
Another horse put down after Easter jumps racing

Read our Media Releases

28 March 2012 Jotilla dies in first jumps race of the Victorian season 
28 March 2012
It’s a race against time – how long until the first jumps racing death of 2012?
17 April 2013
Scenic Buzz killed at Sundown


Please be aware that these videos contain distressing images and may be upsetting to some viewers.

The Fall of Phaze Action

The fall and crash of Jeune Baby Jeune and Palmero.

Ban Jumps Racing 2012 - The death of Jotilla

Jotilla Killed

Humanely Euthanized (Sirrocean Storm)


Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses
Ban Jumps Racing


Scenic Buzz's fatal fall (photos courtesy of Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses)

Jeune Baby Jeune falls crashes through the rail
at Bendigo.

Palmero falls heavily at Bendigo. 

Jumps race horses face a one in 10 chance of injury.

Bugatti Royale was injured during a jumps race at Sandown in 2009.
Pride of Westbury died after breaking his neck at a Warrnambool jumps racing event in 2009.

 Prince Vitality was the second victim of the 2010 Victorian jumps racing season when he fell and broke his shoulder during a Casterton jumps racing event.
Jumps racing only accounts for 0.71%* of turnover in racing.  An extremely poor return for the amount pain and suffering endured each year on jumps racing tracks across Victoria. 

* Based on calculations from wagering during the 2011 jumps racing season.

The jumps racing industry may try to implement risk management, but a jumps race cannot be run safely and humanely no matter how much time, effort and resources are placed on improving safety.  

Rest in peace

Every year jumps horses are brutally killed all in the name of 'sport' with over 60 deaths in Victoria since 2006. We remember the horses who have fallen victim to jumps racing. Rest in peace.

Hanging Rock

26 April 2009
Yarra Valley

Pride of Westbury

6 May 2009
Warrnambool Carnival

Clearview Bay

7 May 2009
Warrnambool Carnival


7 May 2009
Warrnambool Carnival

All Square

15 July 2009

Dark Disguise

28 July 2009
Warrnambool, trial

Rough Night

2 August 2009


Moonee Valley


Moonee Valley


Cranbourne, trial

Prince Vitality

30 May 2010

Sirrocean Storm

Warrnambool Carnival

Casa Boy

4 April 2011

Squire Rex

3 May 2011
Cranbourne, trial

Shine the Armour

3 May 2011
Warrnambool Carnival


31 July 2011


18 August 2011
Cranbourne, trial

Fergus McIver

28 August 2011


28 March 2012


18 June 2012

The Black Oak

15 June 2012

End of Time

7 July 2013


15-16 June 2013
Warrnambool, trial

Reckless Rat

11 June 2013

Scenic Buzz

17 April 2013

Viva Delspec

3 April 2014

Show Dancer
21 May 2014


  25 May 2014

Shot of Glory
  26 June 2014

Feel the Fame
8 April 2015
Cranbourne, trial


8 April 2015
Cranbourne, trial

Try Pickle

  5 July 2015


  13 September 2015

Take action today and demand an end to jumps racing. Enough is enough.

Thank you to our friends for donating these images to RSPCA Victoria.




Racehorses remain undervalued particularly when they are due for retirement. It is estimated that 300 out of every 1000 foals produced will never start in a race. That means of the 18,000 thoroughbred foals born each year in Australia alone, an average of 12,600 will become wastage.  

Ex-racehorses can provide great company to horses you may already have, as well as being a great family pet. While Racing Victoria Limited provides some access to rehoming ex-racehorses, the industry as a whole does not provide a widespread rehoming initiative that offers more horses a life after racing.

The RSPCA’s Horse and Pony Adoption Program helps to find ex-racehorses a loving new home, and encourages the public to strongly consider adoption before purchasing a horse.

Learn more about the experiences of ex-racehorses living happily in retirement.

*figures sourced from the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses.

If you're interested in rehoming a horse or pony we would love to hear from you. Find out more here.

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See also other animal welfare issues faced in Victoria today:
Duck shooting
> Learn more

Puppy factories
> Learn more

Animal hoarding
> Learn more
Testing on animals
> Learn more

Cat welfare
> Learn more
Animals in sport & entertainment
> Learn more

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