The feature race of Warrnambool’s May Racing Carnival, the Grand Annual Steeplechase, was the scene of an array of accidents when it took place this afternoon.
Six of the eight runners either fell or lost their jockeys throughout the race, with only two horses managing to cross the finish line.
The problems were taken to another extreme as one of the riderless horses, Banna Strand, jumped over a three metre high spectator fence into a group of unsuspecting spectators.
The patrons were quickly taken to hospital, with the extent of their injuries still unknown.
The race was officially won by Al Garhood, one of the two horses to make it to the finish.
Despite the incident-filled race, Al Garhood’s trainer Ciaron Maher was thrilled with the outcome.
“What a race – I don’t think I breathed for the whole five minutes,” Maher said.
“He’s a great horse. He makes his own luck. He had a lot of weight but Steve rode him perfectly.
“He’s the reason you get up in the morning.”
Al Garhood’s jockey, Steven Pateman, was focused on his horse’s performances rather than the unfavourable events that plagued the race.
“I’m not sure what happened exactly but obviously not many got home. But Al Garhood was in the zone and even if he got beaten today he was awesome,” Pateman said.
“He was still in for the fight but that’s what this race is all about. There’s 33 fences and they’ve all got to be jumped.
“This is the race I want to win. If I never ride again I can retire satisfied but to win on Al Garhood for my mate Ciaron Maher is amazing.
“We go way back to apprentices at Lindsay Park up to no good. I just can’t believe it.”
This latest incident at Warrnambool is sure to evoke further criticism of the contentious subject that is jumps racing in Australia.