The many worlds of jumps racing: thoroughbreds, conflicting values and media discourse (16928)
‘Jumps racing’ (steeplechasing and hurdling) has long been a source of public controversy about animal welfare in Australia, and is now conducted only in Victoria and South Australia. Drawing together questions about sport, gambling and rural lives with analysis of human-horse relations, debate about jumps racing reveals much about the shifting terms of ethical debate, the interplay of tradition and change and the role of media in communicating value conflict. This presentation extends a previous study of the diverse frames with which Australian print media represent jumps racing. Focussed on 2008 and 2009, the initial study captured the peak period of equine fatalities when jumps racing seemed on the cusp of collapse due to public and political opposition. The current research focuses on 2012 and 2013, a period that proponents of jumps racing characterise as one of resurgence. A sample of regional and national print media sources is analysed to identify how this resurgence is interpreted and communicated, and to compare and contrast the two periods. The findings concentrate on ways in which media representations of horse lives and deaths shape and are shaped by broader public engagement with issues of animal welfare.