An open letter to Premier Weatherill regarding his recent comments on jumps racing

Dear Mr Weatherill,

As a member of SAJC, Oakbank Racing Club, SA Jumps Racing and the Australian Jumping Racing Association, and more importantly as a constituent of yours, I would urge you to reconsider to your public statement on ABC Television to the effect that jumps racing is “cruel and dangerous.”

Anyone with even the briefest acquaintance with those who work in the jumps racing industry would refute such a suggestion in the strongest and most robust terms. The standards of safety in jumps racing in Australia are amongst the very best in the world, as is confirmed by the statistics regarding horse injuries in recent years. Moreover, to suggest that eminent, respectable and thoroughly professional horsemen and women, such as Eric Musgrove, Fran Houlahan or Brian Johnston would indulge in something that could be considered as cruel not only displays a great lack of awareness as to their practices, but also to their contribution to the sport on a wider level.

As far as South Australia is concerned, we are rightly and justifiably proud of the Oakbank Racing Carnival and its contribution both to the racing industry and to the economy of the state. Again, I would urge you to reconsider your statement in the light of this fine and long-standing South Australian institution—to brand something that is so much a part of the fabric of life in this state as “cruel and dangerous” not only flies in the face of over a century of tradition but also besmirches the reputation of both the Oakbank Racing Club and the many prominent SA figures who have long supported and administered it.

Similarly, such comments have an extremely detrimental affect on the morale of those involved in jumps racing in SA, many of whom may well be feeling a great sense of insecurity about their livelihoods as a result of your comments. For the Premier to essentially say that he has no concern for them and their livelihoods may well cause many to ponder whether they have a future in South Australia, and as a consequence shift their operations to Victoria.

I did, however, gain some small encouragement at the end of the interview cited above that you believed that the future of jumps racing in SA is “a matter for the clubs” and this is a position that I would encourage you and your government to maintain. I would urge you in the strongest terms possible to listen to the voices of those involved in jumps racing and for your government not to attempt to legislate any further regarding its continuation here in SA.

Jumps racing is not a cruel sport and I therefore I would respectfully ask you to reflect upon these comments. But more importantly, I would also urge ask you to allow the future of jumps racing in SA to be controlled by Thoroughbred Racing SA and that government takes no steps to intervene.

Yours sincerely,
Mark Angus

(This post first appeared at:

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