The future of the Monday racing schedule at the Oakbank Easter Carnival is in jeopardy with crowd numbers steadily falling over the past three years.
Just 10,000 tuned out for the Great Eastern Steeplechase yesterday, which was won by South Australian trained horse Spying On You. That's compared to 13,000 last year and 15,000 on a rain affected Easter long weekend in 2015.
The weekend event was marred by the death of horse Wheeler Fortune on Saturday, Racing Minister Leon Bignall calling jumps racing barbaric, and calling on Thoroughbred Racing SA to come out of hiding and answer community concerns about the sport.
"On Saturday we saw yet another horse die a senseless death at the hands of jumps racing. Whenever hard questions are being asked about jumps racing the TRSA goes into hiding."
"Despite fewer than 30 jumps horses being trained in South Australia, the sport's controlling body continues to force clubs like the SAJC and Balaklava to host jumps races when those clubs and their members don't want them."
"It's cruel, it's barbaric and it doesn't belong in the 21st century. Many race clubs, trainers and jockeys don't support jumps racing. It's time for them to stand up to their controlling body before long-term damage is done to the entire racing industry."
"The TRSA must realise that racing horses over jumps poses an unacceptable risk to both horses and riders and it is time for the organisation to act and ban jumps racing."
TRSA’s Chair Frances Nelson defended jumps racing, saying this event alone brings $13 million into the local economy and that a parliamentary committee that looked into banning the sport last year decided it should continue. South Australia remains just one of two Australian states that allow the sport, Victoria is the only other.
Meanwhile the Oakbank Racing Club is considering moving the Monday race to the Saturday before to combat the dropping attendance figures.
Image: Oakbank Racing Club (facebook)