Sombre launch to the jumps season
Wednesday April 7, 2010
THERE are still no horses qualified to compete at the start of the 2010 jumps season in just 10 days, so it was fitting that yesterday's launch of the resurrected sport at Warrnambool was a low-key affair.There were no streamers or balloons and the sound of champagne corks popping was replaced by an audible feeling of expectation and hope mixed with a few words of warning.Racing Victoria Ltd's chief executive, Rob Hines, told the gathering at Warrnambool racecourse that "the future of the sport will be decided over the next four months" but by spending more than $600,000 to redesign and build new obstacles, RVL was determined to give jumps racing every chance to prove its worth."This is a serious attempt to make jumps racing safer and to have a future," Hines said before cautioning the sport's faithful."I'm very hopeful the new design will lead to a much safer season. It needs to."Jumps racing in Victoria was axed last December by the RVL board after a spate of falls and horse deaths in 2009 but was brought back to life earlier this year with the promise of new, safer obstacles for steeplechasing and hurdling, which are yet to be tested.RVL took possession only last week of the first load of the new, French-made plastic brush and, as each horse must trial successfully over the new obstacles at least once, it is certain to be a hurried start for the season opening at Hamilton on April 17.A total of 37 horses will attempt to be accredited at the Stony Creek schools tomorrow with at least that number again expected to school at Warrnambool on Tuesday. It is hoped that more than 100 horses will have their ticket to compete in time for the three-day Warrnambool carnival in the first week of May. In all, 63 jumps races are programmed at seven tracks.