A horse fatality has marred the start to the Victorian jumps season at Warrnambool.
Five-year-old Casa Boy was put down after he crashed heavily in the Ace Radio Maiden Hurdle (3224m) at his second jumps start.
Eric Musgrove-trained Olympic Light escaped unharmed when he also fell in the race while stablemate Chatillion was uninjured when he fell in the Northpoint Liquor Hurdle (3224m).
Only 10 horses competed in the two hurdle races which marked the start of the new jumps season.
Casa Boy’s death was the third in a jumps race since the sport was given a reprieve a year ago.
Australian Jumping Racing president Rodney Rae said that while the death was disappointing, fatalities had been an been inevitable part of jumps racing.
“There hasn’t been a jumps racing season where we haven’t had a fatality but our objective is to reduce them and we have been doing a very good job doing that the last couple of years,” Rae said.
“In the 25-30 years of recording statistics, last year was its lowest number of fatalities.”
Rae said the previous lowest number of jumps deaths had been five with the average being between five and eight per year.
Last year Sirrocean Storm died in a hurdle at Warrnambool and Prince Vitality died in a Casterton steeplechase.
Racing Victoria has given the green light for hurdle racing to continue for the next three years while steeplechase racing is reviewed annually.
Jumps racing remains subject to meeting a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) relating to fatalities.
The KPI of not more than 0.65 per cent of fatalities per starters in hurdle races will be measured as a rolling three-year average (including the 2010 season) at the end of the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
The hurdle racing fatality rate in 2010 was 0.41 per cent.
The future of steeplechase racing beyond the 2011 program will also be subject to a KPI of 0.65 per cent of fatalities per starters.
The KPI will be measured as a rolling two year average (including the 2010 season) at the end of the 2011 season.
The fatality rate for steeplechase racing in 2010 was 0.57 per cent.
RVL spent $600,000 on 90 new jumps in 2010 to help reduce horse deaths in jumps races.
Tuesday’s fatality compounded a troubled start to the season for Racing Victoria which was unable to run the programmed steeplechase event at Warrnambool because of a lack of entries due to communication breakdown regarding the qualification conditions for jumpers.
A number of trainers were unaware of the need to requalify their horses for steeplechases this season which left an insufficient number of horses for Tuesday’s event.