The Australian Jumping Racing Industry's commitment is to bring the sport to a new generation. We wish to educate about our history, equine welfare and community. Discover the facts about Jumps Racing below.
What is the definition of the horse?
What is the ongoing commitment from Racing Victoria towards Jumps Racing?
Jumps racing enjoys a long and esteemed history in Victoria with the annual Warrnambool May Racing Carnival a pinnacle of country racing nationwide.
Following a major reset after the 2009 season, jumps racing has been regenerated in Victoria with an unwavering focus from VTRI stakeholders on the safety of all participants.
The 2021 season saw 186 horses compete – the highest number in a season since the reset and up from 125 in 2010.
The introduction of new One-Fit Hurdles, designed to further improve safety for horse and rider, saw 2021 achieve the lowest fall rate in history – down 66% on the 10-year average.
There are 19 jumps racing meetings – six exclusively for jumps riders – programmed in 2022 across eight racetracks.
RV is proposing to retain jumps racing throughout the next decade and program races at those tracks currently conducting meetings subject to appropriate safety standards being maintained, Club support, and the availability of venues and horses.
RV is open to increasing the number of races conducted within the existing season window of March to August, subject to the support of owners and trainers in growing the jumping population.
A trend towards race meetings conducted exclusively with jumps and highweight races will continue should participation numbers warrant it.
The complete Racing Victoria infrastructure paper can be found here
Why is it important jumps racing remains a career path for some thoroughbreds?
Stayers take time and money to prepare.
The dream is to win at the highest level.
In practice most don’t make the highest level and jumps racing provides the horse, owners and trainers a second chance of racing and provides a much better chance of them being rehomed and living a long and mentally stimulating life as an equestrian horse or equine therapy horse.
2024 Program and Prize Money Highlights Include
Racing Victoria (RV) releases the program for the 2024 jumps racing season which largely mirrors the successful 2023 season.
The program features 19 jumps meetings throughout Victoria – six of which will be held exclusively for jumps riders – with 41 hurdle races and 24 steeplechase races programmed prior to any divisions.
The season will commence on Tuesday, 12 March at Warrnambool – the most active track with six jumps meetings – and again conclude with the Grand National Steeplechase meeting at Sportsbet Ballarat on Sunday, 25 August.
The iconic Warrnambool May Racing Carnival will again headline the season, running from Tuesday, 30 April to Thursday, 2 May and featuring the state’s richest jumps race, the $400,000 Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m).
There are two notable programming changes in 2024 to enhance the pattern of feature races and maximise fields:
- The Two Rivers Steeplechase (3800m) has moved from the end of June back to Casterton Cup Day on Sunday, 19 May; and
- The Australian Hurdle (3900m) and the Australian Steeplechase (3900m) at Sportsbet Sandown will move to Sunday, 2 June from their previous May timeslot.
The 2024 season will also see the introduction of the Adam Lindsay Gordon Series – a joint initiative by the AJRA and Country Racing Victoria (CRV) to promote the rich history of jumps racing in Victoria’s western districts.
Points will be allocated based on finishing position (5 points for first, 3 points for second and 1 point for third) in the following four heats with the winning jockey and trainer determined on the season-ending Grand National Day:
- BM120 Hurdle (3400m), Hamilton, Thursday 30 May
- BM120 Hurdle (3500m), Casterton, Sunday 30 June
- 0-114 Hurdle (3300m), Coleraine, Sunday 11 August
- BM120 Steeplechase (3600m), Ballarat, Sunday 25 August
As part of the programming process and as occurred prior to the current flat racing season, prizemoney levels were also reviewed given the ongoing decline in the wagering market and in turn industry revenues.
A total prizemoney pool of $4.76 million will be on offer across the 2024 season, returning to that offered in the 2022 season with a 3.5% reduction from 2023.
Minimum prizemoney levels of $35,000 per race have been maintained, however there has been targeted prizemoney reductions to some feature races which are outlined as part of the full 2024 Jumps Racing Program, available here.
Quotes attributable to RV Jumps Racing Manager - Josh Grimwood
“The release of the jumps racing program officially begins the countdown to the 2024 season where we have maintained the same volume of racing as recent seasons and made some minor adjustments to the flow of feature races.
“The picturesque Two Rivers Steeplechase returns to Casterton Cup Day and now sits nicely between the Warrnambool Carnival and the Australian Hurdle and Steeplechase meeting at Sportsbet Sandown which pushes back into early June.
“The stage is again set for an epic May Racing Carnival at Warrnambool where eight jumps races are expected to run with maiden divisions, before the season builds towards another thrilling finale at Sportsbet Ballarat.
“As occurred with the formulation of the program for the 2023-24 flat season, we’ve had to critically review prizemoney for the 2024 jumps racing season owing to a declining wagering market and industry revenues.
“As a result, we’ve made targeted reductions to selected feature race prizemoney, whilst ensuring that the minimum prizemoney for jumps races remains at $35,000.
“A total of $4.76 million in prizemoney will be on offer across the 2024 jumps racing season – representing the same amount as the 2022 season at an average of over $72,000 per race.”
How important is the Warrnambool carnival to the sport in Australia?
The iconic May Racing Carnival is one of the cornerstones of jumps racing in Victoria. It features the Grand Annual Steeplechase, first run in 1872 and other feature and supporting jumps races. Warrnambool in the first week of May is a Mecca for jumps racing enthusiasts. The May Racing Carnival provides a great boost to the Warrnambool and district economy.
Why is Victoria the only state to hold jumps racing in Australia?
Victoria is the only state that fully supports staying racing. Consequences of running races like the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup and Jericho Cup. This results in a good supply of horses for jumps racing.
Trainers are used to training stayers and many are retired jumps jockeys or horse people who have grown up in regional areas.
There aim, to win our greatest race followed by a plan B for winning over the jumps (which is now offering just under $5 million in prize money) This provides horses with a second career.
Jumps jockeys have historically made very good trainers of stayers and sprinters.
For example Ciaran Maher a former jumps jockey and leading trainer has won both this year’s Melbourne and Sydney Cup.
Going back more than a century, four-time Melbourne Cup winning trainer and Australian Racing Hall of Fame member had been a jumps jockey.
Clayton Douglas also a former jumps jockey won this year’s richest Australian horse race The Everest with sprinter Giga Kick, who recently demonstrated why many consider him Australia’s best sprinter in Saturday’s $1.5m All-Aged Stakes (1400m) at Randwick.
When does the season happen?
The jumps season is from March to the end of August each year.
What is the difference between Hurdle and Steeplechase races?
The hurdle obstacles are smaller than the steeplechase obstacles. Horses start their jumping career in hurdle races then progress to steeplechase races if and when they have gained enough skill and the trainer believes they will be suitable over the larger obstacles.
What horses are ideal for jumping?
- Those that have showed staying ability on the flat that have reached their mark, but are still sound and capable of being competitive over ground.
- Horses that have shown previous form on the flat but have lost their competitiveness on the flat, on most occasions these horses have a renewed interest in racing once they start jumping.
- An example of this is Karasi who had not won a race for 18 months; once he started schooling and jumping over hurdles he went on to win just under $3 million in prize money.
When should I send a horse to a jumps trainer?
You can send a horse at any time of the year as they need approximately two months education before being ready to jump at speed.
How do I become a Jumps Racing Member?
You can purchase one of our memberships via our online store.
Where can I find the program?
The program can be found here.
What type of obstacles are used in jumps racing?
Introduction of the world’s most current safety protocols has had a major impact in reducing falls and has minimized serious injury.
The introduction of French Brush steeples and the OneFit hurdle from England has seen the safest year in jumps racing in over 20 years. This is the world’s safest equipment and they are used in thousands of jumps races every year internationally.
Focusing on research from the BHA and their associated university partners has led hurdle take off to be changed to the colour white. Horses can see better and Australia have led the way in this new change with England following with the change
Replacing every schooling chute in Victoria racing clubs with the Irish Easyfix fences has seen much better education outcomes for horses going jumping.
What is a 'One Fit Hurdle'?
The ‘One Fit’ design is a modified hurdle frame with a custom fitting closed-cell foam pad replacing the traditional birch. The hurdle was developed by the British Horseracing Authority’s Senior Inspector of Courses Richard Linley, in consultation with relevant industry bodies, with the objective of reducing both the faller rate and the risk of injury as the result of a fall.
What are the equine welfare benefits with the new One Fit Hurdles?
The improvement in equine welfare in the UK has been significant. Since their initial trial began in June 2013 the faller rate has reduced to 1.59 per cent (56 fallers from 3,525 runners), which represents a reduction of 0.5 per cent compared to the ten-year average number of fallers across all hurdle designs.
What is a steeplechase?
A steeplechase is a distance horse race in which competitors are required to jump diverse fence and ditch obstacles. Steeplechasing is primarily conducted in Ireland (where it originated), the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Australia and France. The name is derived from early races in which orientation of the course was by reference to a churchsteeple, jumping fences and ditches and generally traversing the many intervening obstacles in the countryside.
Modern usage of the term "steeplechase" differs between countries. In Ireland and the United Kingdom, it refers only to races run over large, fixed obstacles, in contrast to "hurdle" races where the obstacles are much smaller. The collective term "jump racing" or "National Hunt racing" is used when referring to steeplechases and hurdle races collectively (although, properly speaking, National Hunt racing also includes some flat races). Elsewhere in the world, "steeplechase" is used to refer to any race that involves jumping obstacles.
Steeplechase is an unusual word. Where did it come from?
The origin of racing over fences is shrouded by the mists of history, but by all accounts it began in Ireland in the 18th century. Its roots were in the fox-hunting field, and occasionally horsemen would match up their horses for races over considerable distances. They would race to landmarks such as church steeples, and thus one of these races was a chase to the steeple, or a steeplechase.
What is a steeplechase horse?
A steeplechase horse is a Thoroughbred, just like those that race at race tracks on all days. In addition to speed, the steeplechase horse must possess the ability to jump fences at a fast pace. They usually are a little more dour than the horses that race over the hurdles. Because steeplechase races are longer than those on the flat, the steeplechase horse also must have enough stamina to carry its speed distance.
Where does jumps racing originate from and why are the races run over longer distances?
Jumps racing derived from fox hunting (hence the term “National Hunt”) and the first jumps races were called Steeplechases, so named because they were run from one church steeple to another. The first recorded Steeplechase was run over 4.5miles (7.2km) between two towns in County Cork, Ireland 1752. In 1821 the first hurdle race to be recorded was run in England. Jumps racing started in Australia late in the 19th century. Jumps races are run over longer distances because of the hunting derivative and also to help ensure that the horses go at a slower, more suitable tempo for racing over obstacles.
Why are jumps races held over autumn/winter months in Australia?
Jumps racing is held over the cooler seasons in Australia because historically jumps racing derived from hunting, which is held over the winter months but mainly because the ground is more suitable for racing over obstacles in the autumn/winter months in Australia. There are a lot of other countries who hold jumps meetings over the spring and summer months because of their differing climates and access to irrigation, these are mostly European countries
What makes a good jumper?
A combination of factors makes a good jumper. Many horses have their own style of jumping so sometimes there are no rules, but generally trainers would look for an athletic, durable type with good bone who is brave, scopey, careful, has stamina, a good brain, and is sound.
Why would I invest in a jumper?
When you buy a yearling you will wait between 18 months and 2 years to get to the races. Even then it is not certain if you will be competitive.
With a jumper they have already shown some ability on the flat and within 3 months you can be at the races; with a greater chance of getting a return on your investment.
If the horse has been spelling and is coming back into work, it is normally about 3 to 4 months before he will be fit enough and qualified to race in a jumps race. If he is already in work a maximum of 3 months, your horse will most likely have some flat runs prior to competing in a jumps race.
Why do jumps horses carry higher weights?
Jumps horses carry higher weights because of the speed element. More weight equals less speed and a more suitable tempo for racing over obstacles.
Why do jockeys carry heavier weights in jumps races?
There is a minimum weight set by Racing Administration for both Flat races and Jumps races. The minimum for jumps jockeys is 65kgs in Australia. A jockey’s weight carried on race day is determined by the weighting of the horse in the race. If they are too light to meet that weight naturally, they are required to carry a lead bag which brings them up to that weight.
What is involved in training a jumps horse?
Everyone has their own system and ideas of training but generally most trainers will start their horses jumping education over smaller solid obstacles before schooling over hurdles and/or fences going at a steady pace and then schooling over hurdles and/or fences at higher speeds. Jumps horses need to be extremely fit so many hours and kilometres of work is put into these horses. Many jumps trainers, as with flat trainers use a variety of training methods to be able to get adequate miles into the horses legs.
What are the costs involved with a jumping horse?
Pretty much the same as a horse that races on the flat.
How do I become a jumps owner?
Contact a registered trainer and express your interest in owning outright or having a share in a jumping horse.
The trainer will then find a suitable match for you and let you know what your investment will be. Once you pay the trainer for your share and complete a Transfer Of Ownership form
with all your details you will be ready to go!
What does my horse jump over?
When a horse is learning they start over small obstacles like logs and tyres. They can also be free schooled over obstacles in a bull ring without a rider on their back. As they progress they will trial and then jump over hurdles and/or steeplechase fences.
What does my horse have to do to be able to compete in a jumps race?
Your horse needs to have had two qualifying jumping trials to the satisfaction of the Stewards.
Does my horse need to qualify each year?
Once your horse has qualified there is an annual requirement for him to have one trial to the satisfaction of the Stewards which is part of his fitness regime.
What if my horse is too slow or uncompetitive over hurdle fences?
You have the option to compete in Steeplechase races where the tempo of the race is slower.
What distance will my horse compete over when he is jumping?
All jumps races are a minimum of 3200m.
How will I know where my horse is racing?
Your trainer will be in touch with you regarding your horses’ progress. When it is nominated and accepted to run in a race, Racing Australia will send you an email advising this. Then, when your horse has competed, Racing Australia will send you an email advising of the placing and a link for you to watch the replay of the race.
How often does a jumping horse run?
There is a jumps programme each year which lists the possible options for horses to compete. It will be up to your trainer, owner(s) and your horse which will determine how many runs they have and how often.
How long can my horse race over jumps?
No horse in Australia is permitted to race past 13 years of age. Your jumping horse can race right up to that age. Jumps horses are trained over longer distances and compete at a slower tempo; they often race to an older age than horses racing on the flat.
What is the best age for a jumping horse?
4 years old to 12 years old.
Do horses like to jump?
Jumping is a natural skill for a horse – they jump a variety of obstacles in the wild and even in their paddocks.
Jumping for racehorses is a natural career progression from flat racing. They often have a “new lease of life” once you start schooling them over jumps.
Do some horses take longer to learn to jump than other horses?
As with any skill, there are those who very quickly grasp the new challenge, while others need a little more time and supervision to learn and be proficient. Each horse is individual, there is a minimum capability they must achieve before they are allowed to compete in a trial or race.
Who looks after the interests of the jumps jockeys in Australia?
The jumps jockeys come under the care and assistance of the Australian Jockeys Association who has a keen interest in their health and welfare both on and off the horse. Each state also has a jockeys representative body.
What is a stayer?
“Stayer” is a term used to describe a horse that is able to run at speed comfortably over 2400m plus.
Do jumps horses wear tongue ties?
Following a recommendation from the Veterinary and Analytical Committee (VAC) and recent endorsement by the Chairmen of Stewards Committee (COSC), Racing Australia is amending the Tongue Ties Policy. The Policy is part of the National Equipment Register and will take effect on 1 April 2020.
How should the Riding Crop be used in Jumps Racing?
The crop shouldn’t be used as a punisher after a behaviour, but purely for reinforcing the right response (such as jumping).
Who is the Australian Jumps Racing Association (AJRA) and what role do they play in the Racing Industry?
The AJRA is a key industry stakeholder. Its role is to continuously assess and support every component of jumps racing which contributes to an efficient and effective growing industry.
More recently they have been embracing the fast moving digital marketing landscape complimenting their traditional communication mediums.
Their engagement with all participants is essential to this successful outcome; and they are largely supported through memberships and sponsorships.
Some examples of ongoing initiatives are:
- increasing field sizes and betting turnover;
- increasing prizemoney;
- ensuring a balance of appropriate races for all participants through programming;
- working with RVL & Clubs for a more even distribution of races and trials between East and West Victoria;
- supporting initiatives designed to further develop jockey skills;
- inputting to containment and reduction of costs for jumps transportation;
- working with Racing Victoria (RV) on all aspects of safety and the health and well being of participants (both 2 and 4 legged);
- encouraging new owners, trainers, jockeys & members to our industry.
What is the structure of the AJRA?
The AJRA is a Not for Profit organisation, managed as a Committee. All Committee members are voluntary, have a passion for jumps racing, and have depth of knowledge and experience in the industry.
What are the five key focus areas of the Australian Jumps Racing Association?
- To maintain a professional organisation to support the industry of Australian Jumps Racing
- To increase crowds at jumps races by creating a broader interest in the sports through industry engagement
- To engage a passional equine community including trainers, jockeys, owners, members, and stakeholders.
- To increase the amount of horses involved and advocate the quality of horsemanship skills and equine welfare, before, during, and after jumps racing.
- To work with stakeholders to increase wagering.