Steeplechase racing on trial for a year

jockeysSteeplechase racing will be on trial for the 2011 season, the Racing Victoria (RVL) board has announced.

The RVL board considered the future of steeplechase racing and approved a one-year program.

In reaching this decision the board consulted participants and took into consideration an assessment of the safety performance of steeplechase racing during the 2010 season and the factors that may have contributed to a higher fall rate than hurdle racing.

The future of steeplechase racing beyond the 2011 program will be subject to a key performance indicator (KPI) of 0.65 per cent of fatalities per starters.

The KPI will be measured as a rolling two year average (including the 2010 season) at the end of the 2011 season.

The fatality rate for steeplechase racing in 2010 was 0.57 per cent.

This approval also includes the implementation of initiatives prior to the start of the season to improve the safety of the sport such as improving sight lines on obstacles and reviewing the placement of wings; improving schooling and trialling facilities at training venues; reviewing the racing program; and assessing the suitability of venues.

The board approved a jumps racing prizemoney and facilities improvement budget for the 2011 season of $2.9 million that includes prizemoney for a program of 70 jumps races, an owners incentive program and a contribution towards improving the schooling and trialling facilities for jumps horses at racecourses.

RVL chief executive, Rob Hines said given the 2010 season was a transitional year to new obstacles, it was reasonable to expect the performance could be improved with a combination of further experience for horses, trainers and jockeys.

“The change in obstacles this season meant that horses needed to be retrained to jump the new fences,” he said.

“We have made a commitment to improve the schooling and training facilities where possible to assist trainers in the preparation of horses for jumping.

“We will also make a number of changes, which have been agreed in conjunction with the jumps racing participants, aimed at continuing to improve safety for horses and riders.”