Racing Victoria moves to fill Oakbank void

Following the announcement by Racing SA to cease jumps racing in South Australia, Racing Victoria has acted to ensure that preparations for jumpers towards the 150-year-old May Racing Carnival at Warrnambool are assisted with the re-programming of the MJ Bourke Hurdle (3200m) meeting to Easter Monday, 18 April.

The decision to end jumps racing, particularly abandoning the renowned two-day carnival run over Easter at Oakbank left a significant hole in the jumps racing calendar, particularly for horses aimed for the Warrnambool carnival which includes the Australia’s longest race, the Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m).

In contrast to the South Australian position, Racing Victoria has re-affirmed a commitment to the controversial section of the sport by increasing prizemoney over the season spanning six months by $850,000 and then by readjusting the schedule to fill the breach left without races including the Great Eastern Steeplechase (4950m).

Improvements in rates of fatalities and modern designed obstacles are key to the Victorian position.

“We’re coming off a fantastic 2021 season, one of which was the among the safest in history of the sport,” said Paul Bloodworth from Racing Victoria.

“Off the back of the introduction of our new one-fit hurdles, and the plan has today been set for an exciting 2022 season where an ongoing commitment to safety will remain for all participants.”

Jumps racing participants have raised questions over Racing SA’s decision to cancel the sport in that state.

The declaration was re-assessed and later re-affirmed.

Victoria is the only jurisdiction in Australia where jumps racing continues.

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