.VICTORIA'S jumps industry is facing more controversy after a riderless horse leapt into the crowd at yesterday's Grand Annual Steeplechase in Warrnambool, leaving seven people in hospital.
Jumps racing under fire again after horse leaps into crowd"They wouldn't have seen it coming because of the height of the fence. It would have come straight through the fence at them," Mr Wild said. "There were people running everywhere and I could hear the screaming and a horse among all the people over there."
Andrew Eddy, Warrnambool
THE AGE / page 1. / 06/05/2011
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Seven people were injured by the runaway horse and taken to Warrnambool Hospital. They included a two-year-old girl with a fractured collarbone, a 12-year-old girl with an injured foot and an 80-year-old woman with shoulder and hip injuries.
Victorian Racing Minister Denis Napthine said he had asked Racing Victoria to a conduct broad review of spectator safety, as well as to investigate yesterday's incident. "The safety of spectators at horse racing events is of paramount importance. I have asked Racing Victoria to report back to me on existing safety measures and any recommendations to improve spectator safety," Mr Napthine said.
Racing Victoria chief executive Rob Hines said an investigation would be launched into all incidents during yesterday's race, but denied the race reflected poorly on jumps racing and thoroughbred racing in general. "What we saw today was a freakish accident where a horse left the course and went onto a public road where people were watching the race, and unfortunately they had no idea the horse was coming," he said. "But only two of the horses actually fell and while we are very concerned about the injured spectators, I doubt it will impact on horse racing's image as the incident was simply freakish."
Australian Jumps Racing Association president Rodney Rae said the incident was totally unexpected. "No one could have foreseen something like this happen. It is similar I suppose to a car leaving the track in a grand prix race and going into the crowd," he said.
images of the spectators courtesy Theatre of the Actors of Regard
For the first time in the race's 134-year history, just two of the eight starters in what is the country's most gruelling steeple event finished the race. No horses or riders were seriously hurt.
The 5500-metre, 33-fence race was eventually taken out by last year's winner, the 11-year-old Al Garhood, ahead of the other remaining contender, Awakening Dream
Activist group the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses will protest in Melbourne today to call for an immediate end to jumps racing.
with apologies to Daniel Buren, 1968
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