Jumps racing to continue at Morphettville in Adelaide despite SA Jockey Club opposition

Jumps racing will continue at Morphettville Racecourse in Adelaide this year despite calls by the SA Jockey Club (SAJC) to end the controversial sport.

After six months of negotiations with Thoroughbred Racing SA (TRSA), the SAJC agreed to host six jumps races over four race days, down from nine last year.

This year's jumps season starts at Oakbank on Sunday, March 15 ahead of the Oakbank Easter Racing Carnival and ends at Morphettville on Saturday, August 28 at the SAJC's Irish Race Day.

The announcement was made on the same day as the Oakbank Carnival launch, which includes the Great Eastern Steeplechase event.

The SAJC maintained the sport did not have a place in South Australia given the low number of local horses involved, but said it accepted the decision.

The club's chief executive, Brenton Wilkinson, said while the club welcomed the move to reduce the number of jumps events, the board would push for the 2015 season to be its last.

"The TRSA do clearly understand that our board don't want any jumps racing at Morphettville," Mr Wilkinson said.

"It will be an ongoing discussion that will be had every year when all of our programming is reviewed.

"Boards change year-in and year-out when elections come around, but at the moment my board is 100 per cent resolved that we don't want jumps racing at Morphettville."

Metropolitan focus still important: TRSA

Mr Wilkinson said the Jockey Club was pleased the TRSA had accepted the need to try to develop a jumping industry in the state because there was a lack of owned and trained horses in South Australia.

"We just don't believe there's an industry in South Australia," he said.

"They've [the TRSA] increased the number of trainers that have got accreditation for training jumps horses, however now they have to go down the path of growing that part of the industry and the best place to do that is in the provincial and country racing tracks, to give people a chance to win the prize money in those areas rather than competing against the Victorians that come across to win all the Saturday meetings."

However, Thoroughbred Racing SA chief executive Jim Watters said it was important to have a metropolitan focus for jumps racing.

"Their opposition hasn't been to jumps racing, it's just their view is based on what they want to do at Morphettville," he said.

Mr Watters said jumps racing was a legitimate part of the racing industry and the TRSA would continue to support it.

"Our position has been that we have to look at what is the right outcome for racing, right across all levels in the state," he said.

RSPCA to boost campaign against jumps racing

The RSPCA said it would step up its campaign to ban jumps racing in South Australia following the TRSA's decision.

Animal welfare advocate with the RSPCA, Dianne Evans, said it was a disappointing result and she would be writing to the State Government to try to ban the sport altogether.

"We will look at any avenue to try and see this sport withdrawn as soon as possible, whether it's through government lobbying, or urging the industry to do it voluntarily," Dr Evans said.

"We are aware they [the State Government] have limited capacity to influence the industry itself, but certainly with this decision we will be looking towards amendments to the Animal Welfare Act.

"New South Wales, as far back as 1997, did ban the sport under their welfare legislation."

Dr Evans said the RSPCA believed community attitudes towards jumps racing had changed and were more "sensitised" to the issues around the sport.

She said since 2009, 15 horses in South Australia were known to have died at a horseracing track as a result of jumps racing.

"It will never be made safe, despite attempts by the industry," Dr Evans said.

"Horses will continue to be injured and die and as a result of that there is community sentiment which can be expressed through reduced attendances at race meetings and other events associated with the industry.

"We're hoping through community support the message will get through eventually to the TRSA that jumps racing no longer, and hasn't for some time, had a role at all in so-called sport in this state."