The 2018 SA jumps racing season has claimed its first reported fatality, with a horse dying of a suspected ruptured aorta after falling at a weekend Morphettville race – the third jumps racing death in South Australia in 18 months.
During the 3500m hurdle at Morphettville Racecourse on Saturday, About The Journey made the second jump awkwardly and fell, losing his rider, but continued to follow the field for the remainder of the race.
According to a Thoroughbred Racing SA (TRSA) report, About The Journey “became awkward in its action after easing up and fell”. A TRSA veterinarian pronounced the gelding dead on his arrival, due in his opinion to a ruptured aorta.
The 9-year-old gelding has become the 19th horse to die as a result of jumps racing in South Australia since 2009, following last year’s deaths of Wheeler Fortune at Oakbank in April and Surface to Air competing at Murray Bridge in September.
RSPCA South Australia is renewing its call to Thoroughbred Racing SA (TRSA) to take immediate action to stop jumps racing in South Australia.
RSPCA South Australia strongly urges those clubs that still stage jumps races (Oakbank, Balaklava, Gawler, Naracoorte, Murray Bridge and Morphettville) to make a commitment to animal welfare and remove jumps from their tracks for good.
“This obvious disregard to the welfare of these horses cannot continue,” said Dr Rebekah Eyers, RSPCA South Australia Animal Welfare Advocate.
“Looking at About The Journey’s recent form, this horse appeared to be struggling with the long distances and hurdles to clear. Based on About The Journey’s performance a week earlier – where he finished behind the winner by 25 lengths, and continued to be whipped by his jockey despite not being in contention for the race – this horse should not have been raced again on Saturday.
“Embarrassingly, these recent deaths come after a Parliamentary Select Committee in November 2016 gave the South Australian jumps racing industry three years to adopt its recommendations and improve ‘safety’ measures, despite RSPCA’s strong position that jumps racing should be banned because it can never be made safe.”
Dr Eyers said RSPCA South Australia is still concerned about a lack of transparency in jumps racing.
TRSA has not released steward’s reports of trials, nor made publicly available reports on outcomes from falls and injuries sustained during racing.
“We can’t allow horses to be put at risk of more suffering or death for another year on our racetracks,” Dr Eyers said.
“We urge TRSA to withdraw jumps events from future racing programs and we encourage members of the public to take action to help bring an end to this senseless and inhumane activity.”
Concerned South Australians can take action at RSPCA South Australia’s website: www.rspcasa.org.au/jumps-racing.