An offshoot of flat racing is jumps racing. Whereas horses used to be deliberately bred for jumps racing, it is now seen as an opportunity for failed flat racing thoroughbreds to give a financial return.
Jumps races are run over greater distances than flat races. The combination of fatigue, pre-existing injury, speed, jumping under pressure and errors of judgement by both jockey and horse contribute to the high risk of injury.
The Warrnambool Racing Carnival (where six horses died in 1994) is over five kilometres long.
Horses deemed too slow for simple hurdle races are usually moved to steeplechasing. Steeplechases are longer races, with fewer hurdles, however the hurdles are so tall they’re considered “fences”. The Grad Annual Steeplechase has thirty three jumps over a distance 5500m.
To avoid injury or death the horse must clear each obstacle with an accuracy that is difficult when galloping at speed.
Confronted with a high hurdle and forced to jump it at high speed, the horse must clear the obstacle with an accuracy that is difficult when surrounded by other galloping horses.
In a jumps race there is a 1 in 10 chance of injury and a 1 in 150 chance of death for the racehorse.
A 1991 NSW parliamentary enquiry recommended that jumps racing be banned due to the potential danger to both jockeys and horses.