Jumps racing will be banned in South Australia, with the state government throwing its support behind a Greens bill to outlaw the sport.
- Jumps racing effectively ended last year with no races scheduled
- A former Oakbank racing carnival organiser says it will kill the event
- The Greens say more people will return to Oakbank now jumps racing is banned
Speaking in favour of the bill in parliament today, Deputy Premier Susan Close said jumps racing no longer had the public’s support.
The industry body, Racing SA, effectively ended jumps racing in South Australia at the end of last year, saying declining numbers of horses and jockeys had made the industry unsustainable.
It decided not to have any jumps racing on the 2022 calendar.
Dr Close said she understood there were still members of the racing community who opposed the move, and banning it by law would give certainty to the industry.
“What this legislation does is to create certainty for an industry that has had a degree of uncertainty and one might say a bit of internal turmoil in determining what it wants to do about the sport of jumps racing,” she said.
Disagreement within horse racing industry
Jumps racing proponents said Racing SA had not consulted them before making the decision to cancel events.
Former Oakbank Easter Racing Carnival chair John Glatz said the move will would kill the annual event.
“Sadly it’ll be the demise of Oakbank. Oakbank now just becomes like any other normal Wednesday [or] Saturday meeting where no-one goes,” he said.
Mr Glatz said while the Greens had been successful in outlawing jumps racing, he was concerned it was the first step in a push to have all kinds of horse racing banned.
“They want all racing to be banned within four years, so all this does is just gives them a leg up,” Mr Glatz said.
But the current Oakbank Racing Club chair, Arabella Branson, said that was not the view of the wider industry.
“We understand some people are still determined to hang onto the past, but our members and community are more interested in building a new and exciting future for Oakbank,” she said.
“They made that clear when they returned our committee with an emphatic majority last month, and we now look forward to delivering on our vision for a vibrant Easter carnival to complement our other days of racing throughout the year.”
Greens say Oakbank may become more popular
Greens MLC Tammy Franks said it was her party’s policy to ban horse and greyhound racing, but in this case her party was specifically targeting jumps racing.
“The Greens don’t support horse racing, they don’t support greyhound racing,” she said.
“But we haven’t seen a ban on jumps racing lead to a ban on flats racing in other jurisdictions.”
Ms Franks said she believed the move would make the Easter Oakbank races more popular.
“Those people who didn’t want to see a green screen that comes up because a horse was being killed while they were having their champagne and wearing their frocks may well come back to Oakbank now,” she said.
Fewer than 10,000 people attended the most recent two days of racing over Easter, compared with 25,000 at the last pre-pandemic carnival in 2019.
The opposition said it did not support a ban on jumps racing because the industry was self-regulated and had already discontinued the events.
Debate on the bill was adjourned in parliament today but is expected to pass with government support on Thursday.
The South Australian laws will still allow jumps training, along with other equestrian events such as show jumping.
Victoria is now the only jurisdiction in Australia where jumps races are still held.