Counterpunch: It’s an abattoir with a winning post
Yesterday, I woke up, dynamited a few fish down the river and shone my magnifying glass on some ants. But the critter toll wasn’t high enough for my sadistic needs, so I tuned into Sky Racing and watched the jumps racing at Warrnambool.
And wouldn’t you know it, a horse was killed in the very first race. Its name was Shine the Armour. It should have been called Polish the Turd, because that’s what racing authorities have done with this sick, brutal so-called sport.
In 2009, after a comprehensive review, it was announced that jumps racing was to be banned in Victoria from 2010 onwards. What happened next quite simply defies all of the logic which normally prevails in public debate in Australia.
A minuscule but highly vocal minority group – comprised entirely of jockeys too fat to ride regular horses and trainers to inept to lead a regular horse into the winner’s stall – successfully campaigned to have the ban overturned.
As Ben Asgari points out in the post above, a range of wet sponge criteria were enforced to modify the sport’s inherent dangers, but the bottom line is that madness prevailed. The sport was reinstated. Horses can still be urged over fences they don’t want to jump, in races punters don’t want to bet on.
There is a case expressed by some on the loony fringe that the entire sport of racing is cruel. As someone who worked on Australian racetracks for five years, this is not my experience.
There were 19,376 flat races conducted in Australia last year, and the vast majority did not end in incident. The same cannot be said for the 95 jumps races in which, as Ben Asgari puts it, there were “only” three deaths.
That, right there, is the clincher. If a horse is going to die once every 32 races, then clearly what you have is an abbatoir with a winning post.
Ben says that jumps horses are often saved from the knackery, like that’s supposed to make us feel all warm and gooey.
It’s kind of like taking an old elephant out of the jungle on the premise that lions were about to it eat it, then beating its hide each day in an old-school circus to make the kiddies laugh.
The Australian Jumps Racing Association ludicrously tries to claim some historical spine underpinning the sport, based on the flimsy premise that there was a jumps race somewhere in Australia way back in 1832.
The truth is, there is no unbroken tradition of jumps racing here, as there is in say England or Ireland, where jumping horses over hedge fences was once part of country life.
Also, the turf is a lot wetter and softer in the British Isles, a crucial prerequisite for ensuring a horse’s safe landing.
Now take a look at this link. It’s the current trainers’ premiership table for the jumps racing season in progress. Just 20 trainers ply their trade at this game, and some are yet to win a single dollar this year.
Makes you wonder why they bother, doesn’t it. It also makes you think that instead of tainting the entire sport of racing with their cruel offshoot, perhaps these people would be much better placed seeking an alternative career path.
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