Critics Over Jumps Racing 2009: Pride Westbury

Critics over jumps racing

Pride of Westbury breaks his neck in a fall at Warrnambool.
Photo: Liss Ralston THE fight to save jumps racing in Victoria suffered a serious blow when a stayer crashed and broke its neck in front of the grandstand at the Warrnambool races yesterday. Pride of Westbury’s death the third in jumps racing already this season means that today’s gruelling 5500-metre Grand Annual Steeplechase will face scrutiny like never before in its 137-year history. There was hardly a sound from the sizeable crowd at the finish of the $100,000 jumps feature yesterday, despite the close finish between ultimate winner Desert Master and Hooker Road, as seconds earlier six-year-old Pride of Westbury nosedived into the turf and broke his neck after misjudging the final hurdle. The horse’s jockey, Trent Wells, was last night in Warrnambool Hospital with a suspected broken arm. Last week, Wells was the rider of a horse that fell and had to be destroyed at a bushfire charity event at Yarra Glen. Victorian Racing Minister Rob Hulls last year put jumps racing on notice after 12 deaths during races and trials. Yesterday he said he was aware of the latest death. “This incident puts enormous pressure on the jumps racing industry to convince Victorians that it has a sustainable future.”
Racing Victoria chief executive Rob Hines was at Warrnambool yesterday and said the incident had not helped jumps racing’s image. He stopped short of guaranteeing the sport’s immediate future.

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