Minister for Racing Announces New Initiative to Build on Safety in Jumps Racing / Victoria / 18 Feb, 2013

An internationally acclaimed jockey coach has been engaged to build on safety measures in Victorian jumps racing.

Minister for Racing Denis Napthine said Steve Smith Eccles from England would later this month conduct six days of intensive training of jumps with jockeys and trainers.

Mr Smith Eccles, a former highly successful jumps jockey, is now a highly sought after consultant and coach to jumps trainers and jockeys in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

This follows British Olympic equestrian coach Yogi Breisner who conducted a multi-day workshop last year for our Victorian jumps jockeys.

“The work of Mr Smith Eccles this year, prior to the start of the new season of jumps racing, will help to further enhance safety in jumps racing in Victoria,” Dr Napthine said.

“While the last two years have seen a vast improvement in safety statistics in jumps racing, we are not prepared to rest on our laurels. The Victorian Coalition Government and the racing industry are absolutely committed to ongoing safety enhancements for both jockeys and horses.

“Conducting an annual jumps racing workshop to continually improve safety, welfare and participant skills is a key component of the Coalition Government's $2 million package to support and enhance jumps racing, including safety measures,” Dr Napthine said.

Racing Victoria’s Jumps Review Panel Chairman Rob Montgomery said this year’s workshop program would be even more comprehensive than last year and served as an important launch pad for the 2013 season.

“The six-day Jumps Forum is a key component of the industry’s commitment to safety in jumps racing and ensuring that participants continue to refine their skills for the betterment of the sport,” Mr Montgomery said.

“Mr Smith Eccles, accompanied by our former champion jumps jockey Craig Durden, will conduct sessions over six days. These will be across a range of locations to cater for a greater number of industry participants.

“In addition to workshops and indoor arena sessions, Mr Smith Eccles and Mr Durden will be present at schooling sessions taking place before jumps trials to maximise the practical application of skills learnt.

“They will watch the jumps trials and give feedback to the riders on their riding technique and will be readily available to answer questions from trainers in regards to the jumping ability and training plans for their horses,” Mr Montgomery said.