Following consultation with the Australian Jumping Racing Association (AJRA), the Racing Victoria (RV) Board has approved a three-year funding package for jumps racing within the state.
Underpinning the package is a commitment to co-fund, with the State Government, the purchase of a second set of obstacles that will further RV's commitment to optimising safety within the sport.
The new look obstacles, which have been credited with helping to halve the fatality rate in Victorian jumps racing over the past 16 months, will become a resident fixture in the state's western districts.
They will allow for further trialling and training opportunities to assist in the education of horses and riders, whilst helping to maintain the integrity of the existing race obstacles through a shared workload.
As part of the package, RV has committed to fund an $8.85 million prize money budget over the next three years and will also provide an annual grant to the AJRA for administration of the sport.
Under the agreement, the AJRA will assume a number of jumps racing event and marketing activities currently performed by RV including the organisation of the annual Mosstrooper Awards Dinner.
The RV commitment comes on top of the recent $2 million four-year jumps racing funding package announced by the Minister for Racing, Dr Denis Napthine, as part of the State Government's Victorian Racing Infrastructure Fund (VRIF).
The VRIF funding will not only assist in the purchase of a second set of obstacles, it will also see the establishment of an annual jumps racing workshop to improve race safety and participants skills and a Rider Development Scholarship as a means of raising promising second tier riders to the next level.
In addition, the Government contribution from unclaimed dividends will see minimum prize money increased to $20,000 per race, the introduction of a New Starter Incentive Scheme and provide for promotional opportunities around international participation.
It has also guaranteed major prize money increases for the Grand Annual Steeplechase and Grand National Steeplechase which will jump 66% and 25% respectively to $250,000 each from 2012.
“Racing Victoria is committed to providing enhanced opportunities for the education of jumps horses and riders to further the improvement in safety made since the conclusion of the 2009 season,” RV Chief Executive, Rob Hines, said.
“The second set of obstacles will be a welcome asset for the jumps racing industry, particularly in the western districts of the state, and will allow greater flexibility in programming trials and schooling horses in preparation for competition.
“In consultation with the AJRA we have defined a funding package for the next three years that complements the Government's recently announced commitment to jumps racing and sets out a clear funding pathway for the future.”
AJRA President, Rod Rae, said with prize money and bonuses in excess of $10 million committed to jumps racing for the next three years that investment in the sport would be stimulated.
“This overall commitment will send a strong message to industry participants that jumping racing is here to stay,” Rae said.
“We are extremely pleased with the safety performance of jumping racing over the past two years and everyone is to be congratulated. It is second to none and we have established a new benchmark for world's best practice.
“We are thankful for the support of the Minister for Racing Dr Denis Napthine, the Coalition Government and Racing Victoria as jumping racing now has the opportunity to relaunch with confidence into the future.”