2 September 2007

Canberra racing escaped equine flu (so far)

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With an equine flu epidemic gripping the nation, we have been lucky to escape any cases here in the ACT, despite a horse having a high temperature on Friday. The flu affects recreational horses as well but the media has focussed on the racing industry, no doubt due to the huge sums of money involved. Racing in Canberra will go ahead next Friday.

If the flu does come to Canberra, the industry will be shut down for two months. The Chief Minister is ‘concerned about the damage to both the economy and the city’s “social fabric”‘. This is because people will be spending their time at home with their family instead of spending all Saturday afternoon at the TAB or the racecourse losing all their money. I’m a little uncomfortable with the idea that our economy is so dependent on gambling.

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So very, very bored and going broke riders – this one comes from an eventing forum:

Some of Australia’s leading equestrians have joined in the sometimes violent protests surrounding this weeks APEC Conference in Sydney.

The riders, who say they have been at a “loose end” after the recent equine influenza outbreak forced a standstill on the movement of horses and the cancellation of this year’s competition season, said that the APEC protests provided them with the physical exercise and sense of purpose that they had missed over the last 12 days.

One former gold medal winning equestrian, who declined to be named, said that with his business at a standstill, the APEC protests had provided him with an alternative activity to gardening and fixing fences. “I needed to get out and do something because daytime television is for bums,” said the equestrian, adding that “Violent protesting provides a similar rush to Cross-Country riding. It’s sort of like being in a mosh pit at the Big Day Out, only you don’t need to buy a ticket.”

Spokesman for the Stop Bush Coalition Alex Bainbridge today told ABC Radio that the equestrians were a welcome addition to the almost 20,000 people who turned out in the city yesterday for the first of the several protests planned over the APEC long weekend. “These riders, whether they agree with our political agenda or not, are more than welcome at the protests… the fact that they shower and cut their hair means they speak to a different section of society than some of our other participants,” said Mr Bainbridge.

One Hunter Valley rider, whose property has been in quarantine for the past week, felt the experience had been very positive for her, saying that “Yelling at a fence in Sydney has been a good way to unwind after a week spent yelling at our local DPI officer, who, like the fence around Sydney, is as thick as two bricks.”

Another rider, whose Sydney property is as yet unaffected by influenza but whose business has been forced to close as a result of the standstill order, said that the financial strains imposed by the lockdown had been a primary reason for her attendance at the protest. “I promised the kids I’d take them into the city to the zoo over the long weekend, but with business being so bad I simply can’t afford to take them, so we thought we’d come down to the APEC protests and see the ferals here instead. The kids have had a ball!”

Although there are no reports of equestrians being arrested so far, police are warning that they will be vigilant in containing any outbreaks of violence. The APEC conference concludes on Sunday.

As you can imagine there are a lot of bored riders out there – just had to pinch these of an equestrian forum for RIOTACT:

Sydney Daily Australian Telegraph Herald Thursday 6 September 2007

Government to allow gambling on Jack Russell Races

In a joint statement with the TAB the NSW Government today announced that it would legalise gambling on Jack Russell racing. In a move designed to alleviate the financial strain on professional equestrians stemming from the equine influenza outbreak, the Government will create high stakes race days in various locations around the state. People from horse related industries will be eligible to enter their own Jack Russells in weight handicapped races over distances up to 1200 metres competing for a total prize pool of $200,000.

NSW Minister for Gaming and Racing Graham West said “This proposal has the full support of the Government. We feel that these races will adequately fill the void left by the cancellation of thoroughbred racing in the ensuing months.”

When asked by reporters if at least some of these races would be mounted to provide riding opportunities to jockeys affected by the EI outbreak, Mr West said that “The Government has canvassed that option as a way of getting some riders back into work, but our vets advise us that at this stage jockeys still present an unacceptable risk of spreading horse flu at race meetings. As a result it was deemed that it would be best if these animals were raced unmounted.”

Well known equestrian Finolina McHughes said the Government’s decision was “bloody fantastic” and “the best news I’ve heard for f—‘in ages.” Ms Hughes, whose horse training business has been “rooted” by the equine standstill, has a pack of eight Jack Russells she plans to campaign at races around the state over the coming months. “For once it will be the dogs feeding the horses rather than the other way around,” Ms Hughes quipped, adding that this would be the lifeline her business needed in order to stay afloat for the duration of the crisis.

The Jack Russell Spring Racing carnival begins at Parramatta Speedway next Saturday.

I’m sure the race horses aren’t complaining. Although I bet they’re missing their few runs round the excercise track.

It’s just marvellous that the police horses are having sickies during APEC couldn’t have picked a better time to “phone in”.

Meanwhile the dish-lickers are making a killing. I guess old habits die hard…

Watch out for speed cameras on the way to work tomorrow. I expect they will be out in force as the Govt attempts to rebalance the budget due to the lost gambling revenues.

The things the Govt will allow just for a bit of cash…

“The gambling’s a small side of it.”

I’d agree that gambling is not the only side to it, but I’d say it’s a pretty big side. Most of the damage to the economy will be in lost betting revenue.

I’m just waiting for a horse at Flemington to get it, and the whole Melbourne Cup will be off. We’ll still get our public holiday of course…

News here in New Zealand is that Canberra’s as contagious as London in 1665.

If you’re a horse, of course.

Ruby Wednesday11:33 am 02 Sep 07

I am heartily sick of hearing about equine flu–almost as much as I’m sick of hearing about the drought (particularly when I lived in Brisbane and we had fairly constant rain that always managed to miss the catchment areas).

The gambling’s a small side of it. The amount of money in stabling and training is huge, let alone recreation and kids’ fancies.

The reason everyone’s so uncompromising about it is that it’s our one and only chance to knock it on the head and let it die out. Once (if) the flu escapes, it’s here forever, including recreational horses.

Agreed. Who *really* gives a shit about horse racing outside of Melbourne Cup day? (Which in itself is just an excuse to get pissed and bludge at work…)

Since when is horse racing the city’s social fabric? Its pretty sad when a minister ties in a city’s social fabric with gambling.

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