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Anti-jumps campaigners were silenced after Warrnambool celebrated one of its most successful three-day carnivals this week.

The pictures to come out of Thursday’s Grand Annual Steeplechase were of horses jumping not falling.

Last year only two of the eight runners finished the 5500-metre course in a drama-packed race which involved seven spectators being injured but on Thursday all 12 horses jumped the 33 fences with only one being pulled up.

There were three harmless falls in the six jumps races held during the carnival which reflected how far safety in the sport had evolved in recent years.

Spectators flocked to Warrnambool with 14,416 people witnessing Awakening Dreams memorable 15 length Grand Annual victory and Dance With Her’s success in the Warrnambool Cup (2350m).

Warrnambool Racing Club (WRC) chairman Des Roberts couldn’t resist questioning the whereabouts of former racing minister Rob Hulls after he nearly caved into anti-jumps protesters and banned the sport during his time in government.

“I hope he was back in his burrow and I hope he saw the greatest race ever that he nearly destroyed,” Roberts said.

Racing Victoria chief executive Ron Hines applauded WRC on delivering an outstanding carnival.

“The carnival was once again extremely well supported by the local community and the racing industry with 27,000 people attending across the three days.’ Hines said.

“I was particularly pleased to see 2140 individual owners enjoy the thrill of racehorse ownership this week and extend my congratulations to the connections of the 29 winners.”

Champion jockey Steve Pateman rode five of the six jumps race winners including Awakening Dream in the Grand Annual.

Hines acknowledged the diligence of the Jumps Review Panel which has implemented improved safety measures for all jumps racing participants.

He said the jumps riders were to be commended for their professionalism and the manner in which they competed, adding that the Grand Annual Steeplechase was “a fantastic spectacle”.

“The trainers are also to be commended on the manner in which they presented their jumpers for competition this week. They were well educated and all were presented in terrific physical condition.”

 
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