Are jumps races worth it?

The Oakbank Easter Racing Carnival is South Australia’s major jumps racing carnival. It is marketed as the world’s biggest picnic race meeting. The Easter Carnival is run by the Oakbank Racing Club and it is the clubs’ largest annual racing event.

How many horses have died in recent years at the Easter Carnival?

At least seven horses have died as a result of jumps events at the Oakbank racetrack since 2010, with the latest death of Black Moon occurring in a trial at Oakbank on 14 April, less than a week before the 2014 Oakbank Easter Carnival1

24 jumps races have been held at the last six Oakbank Easter Carnivals. Five horses have died over the Carnival weekend in that time.

This is a death rate of one horse in every five jumps races at the Carnival.

We say that horses injured or dying in the name of sport, profit and entertainment is totally unacceptable.

Have the public deaths of horses had an impact on the Easter Racing Carnival and the Oakbank Racing Club? 

Have attendances dropped at the Easter Racing Carnival?

As recently as 2010, the attendance for the two days of the Easter Racing Carnival was reported to be 100,000 people – with 56,000 people attending on Easter Monday alone.2

However only about 85,000 people are reported to have attended the Easter Racing Carnival in 2012.3

In 2013, the Oakbank Racing Club’s in-house magazine, Fallen Log News4, reported the attendance over the two days of the carnival was 66,998.

That’s a drop in attendance, over four carnivals, of 33,102 people, or about 33%. It is estimated that the 2015 attendance was less than 50,000, with the 2015 Oakbank Annual Report showing gate income being around $100,000 less than for 2014.

Have you stopped going to Oakbank?

Tell John Glatz, Chairman of the Oakbank Racing Club, why you don’t attend the Oakbank Easter Racing Carnival. Every email will help to send a clear message that continuing to hold jumps races turns people away.

Take Action: Send an email to John Glatz, Chairman of the Oakbank Racing Club

Send an email to [email protected] [ATTN: John Glatz] and CC [email protected] [ATTN: Dr Di Evans] to make your voice heard.

The wording below is an example of the message you may like to send;

"Jumps racing has proven to be deadly for horses and dangerous for jockeys. Attending Oakbank is not a picnic when horses are placed at risk of serious injury or death. People don’t want to witness this tradition that no longer has a place in today’s society.

Black Moon’s death on 14 April, 2014 in an Oakbank trial is evidence that it cannot be safe."


Art Success falling in 2012

Art Success fractures his pelvis after being contacted by Gravitas in the Great Eastern Steeplechase, Oakbank, 9 April 2012, resulting in his euthanasia. Image credit: © www.BanJumpsRacing.com Used with permission.


Are companies jumping off the Oakbank Racing Club?

Yalumba is the latest sponsor to withdraw financial support from 2015 stating that a future partnership with the Oakbank Racing Club would not align with their marketing plan and target market.

Since 2011, companies such as Toyota, Australian Radio Network (Mix 102.3), Tindall Gask Bentley Lawyers and Crompton Lighting have dropped off the list of sponsors and supporters of the Oakbank Racing Club.5

Paint company Dulux withdrew its support from the Oakbank Racing Club following the death of two horses in 2012.6

Coopers Brewery, a supporter of many South Australian sports and events, did not to continue its sponsorship of the club in 2013.

The 2014 Oakbank Annual Report showed a continued low level of sponsorship income of only $209,664 which does not cover the jumps racing prize money of $392,000. In 2015, this situation has not improved with sponsorship and advertising income declining by $27,208 to $182,456.

Is continuing with jumps races hurting financially?

The Oakbank Racing Club generated $2.7 million worth of income in 2009.7 In 2014/15, as for the previous year, the club’s operations generated a mere $1.4 million in income.8

From the end of 2008 until 30 June 2015, the club’s cash and cash equivalents (which are defined in their annual reports as term deposits, cash management accounts, petty cash and cash at bank) have decreased from $654,761 to $217,171.

Over the past seven reporting periods (2009 through 2015) the Oakbank Racing Club has only once ran a surplus (in 2011). Operations in the six other periods ran at a deficit.

For the 2014/15 reporting period the club ran an operating deficit of $237,113 and with only $217,171 in current cash assets the financial viability of the club is uncertain, attracting the following comment from the independent auditor;

….Oakbank Racing Club Incorporated incurred an operating loss during the year ended 30 June 2015 and as at this date there is a deficiency in net current assets. These conditions indicate the existence of a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt about the association's ability to continue as a going concern.

Are South Australian taxpayer dollars being invested in Oakbank?

The Motor Accident Commission, South Australia’s provider of compulsory third party insurance and the state government’s manager of road safety campaigns, is listed as a corporate supporter of the Oakbank Racing Club.9

Brand South Australia, the not-for-profit, member-based organisation that uniquely connects with the South Australian government, media and businesses, to promote confidence and pride in South Australia’s creativity, innovation and industriousness, is also listed as an ‘Oakbank Partner’ on the Oakbank Racing Club website.10

Sadly, support of jumps racing by state government bodies exists in Victoria. The former state government injected $2 million11 into the Victorian jumps racing industry after Racing Victoria Ltd decided the 2010 jumps season would be the last.12

Does the Easter Racing Carnival return much to local jumps trainers?

South Australian trained horses received $21,500 of the total $390,000 in prize money on offer during the 2013 Easter Racing Carnival. That is 5.5% of the total jumps winnings. Similarly in 2014, the prize money awarded to local horses totalled $26,16013 or 6.7% of total prize money, still a paltry amount.

Following the 2012 Easter Racing Carnival, Greg Carpenter (General Manager of Racing Operations at Racing Victoria) described South Australia’s jumps racing as “virtually negligible.”14

“Most of the runners come from either Victoria or from John Wheeler in New Zealand. You have to wonder how things would turn out if someone like Wheeler suddenly decided not to go (to Oakbank).” 

Virvacity 2012

Virvacity falls fracturing his shoulder and is euthanased after competing in the Von Doussa Steeplechase, Oakbank 7 April 2012. Image credit: © www.BanJumpsRacing.com Used with permission.



1.Jumps racing death raises questions about sport” – ABC 7.30 Report May 22, 14

2. "56,000 attend Oakbank's to see It's A Dud win the Great Eastern Steeplechase" - The Advertiser, published April 06, 2010

3. "Feisty racing fans back a winner at Oakbank" - The Advertiser, published April 09, 2012

4.“2013 Easter Carnival Highlights” - Fallen Log News Issue 10,  published in September 2013 

5. Oakbank Racing Club annual reports 2011, 2012,2013 and 2014

6."Oakbank supporter ends backing" - ABC News, published 20 April 2012

7.Oakbank Racing Club 2009 Annual Report 

8.   Oakbank Annual Report 2015

9. Ibid (see reference 8)

10. Oakbank Racing Club website

11. "Three-year funding approved for Victorian jumps racing" - Thoroughbred News, published June 11, 2011

12. "Victoria bans jumps racing" - ABC News, published 27 November, 2009

13. Racing Information Services Australia http://www.risa.com.au

14. "Future of jumps races in doubt because of declining numbers" - Herald Sun, published March 29, 2013