Racing Victoria meets tomorrow (Wednesday 13 May) to decide whether or not to finally follow every other state (except South Australia) in banning jumps racing. (UPDATE – decision postponed until “later in the week”)
Nearly a year ago, I said such a ban was well overdue. Instead, there was another review, followed by more ‘improvements’, followed by more horse deaths. At the time I mentioned there had been two other reviews in the previous six years.
At the weekend it was pointed out to me that a Senate Committee report as far back as 1991 contained a recommendation “that relevant State Governments should phase out jump racing over the next three years.” (that is, by 1994).
I should also note that a minority of the Committee, while “sharing the Committee’s concern about the fatality rate in jump racing”, considered that “improvements to jump racing facilities and practices will alleviate many animal welfare problems.”
Since then, a number of state governments have banned jump racing. All the improvements suggested as an alternative back in 1991 – and more – have been tried, but the high death rate continues.
A comment left on my previous post on the same topic suggested that “horse racing is one of the most mild forms of animal exploitation” and if you argue against jump racing, “to be intellectually honest you have argue against all animal exploitation.” A similar question was raised in this recent post by Robert Merkel at LP – I think he personally isn’t keen on jump racing, but is simply pointing out the contrast with far worse forms of cruelty than go on unchecked.
It’s a fair enough point as far as it goes, but if you applied that line of reasoning to most issues, you’d often end up doing nothing. Reform often starts with the easier areas first (although if this issue has already been around 20 years, it probably doesn’t qualify as an easy one). If you insisted on doing the hardest ones first, or on either addressing every problem in area at once or doing nothing, not much would happen. It’s not that dissimilar to the argument that Australia alone can’t stop climate change so we shouldn’t do anything unless everyone else does.
The Australian’s sports reporter Patrick Smith – a mainstream journo if ever there was one – has done a couple of great columns on this topic. (as he has in the past on excessive, unnecessary use of the whip in horse racing more generally – another area where Racing Victoria has been slow to act)