TWO opposing groups used two different ways to get their message across at the Warrnambool racecourse yesterday.
Armed with megaphones and placards, about six anti-jumps racing protesters from the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses made their feelings about the sport quite clear.
A bit further down the hill, another group of six armed with just clipboards and high-vis vests collected signatures in favour of jumps racing as racegoers filed through the gates.
The pro-jumps racing petition was the brainchild of racing enthusiast and political candidate James Purcell who said he had been overwhelmed with the amount of people signing.
“I’d say we’ve had more than 1000 signatures today,” he said.
“Yesterday we had 500 people sign it and we ran out of forms. We’ve doubled it today and run out again.
“We’re low key. We don’t have megaphones or anything like that, people are coming over to us and signing.”
Mr Purcell said the aim of the petition was to show both sides of government there was strong support for jumps racing.
“If Labor wins the November election, we don’t want to see jumps racing face the uncertainties it did last time they were in power,” he said.
“If Daniel Andrews becomes premier, or if Denis Napthine wins, we will present this to them and say ‘secure the future of this sport’.”
Mr Purcell said he would discuss with the Australian Jumps Racing Association the value of collecting signatures at other events outside the region.
Anti-jumps protesters — the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses — held two protests in town yesterday and labelled Premier Denis Napthine the ‘Minster for Cruelty to Animals’.
Spokesman Ward Young said they picketed Dr Napthine’s Liebig Street electorate office yesterday morning before standing out the front of the main gate of the racecourse.
Mr Ward said Dr Napthine invited the protesters inside his office and spoke with them briefly.
“We asked him if they were to poll all of Victoria, not just the south-west, and it came back there was a majority of support to scrap jumps racing, would he do it,” Mr Ward said.
“He replied that if we were to poll about corporal punishment, there would be majority support for that too, but it wouldn’t necessarily mean laws would change.
“The fact is Premier Napthine is supporting corporal punishment of racehorses by continuing to support jumps racing.”