We jump to the lead as riders boycott Ekka
A HENDRA virus boycott of the Royal Brisbane Show has focused international attention on this year's competition at the Gympie Show.
Today's events will see some of the world's best competing here rather than at the Ekka.
The volatile clash has been described as an unavoidable consequence of a new Brisbane Exhibition policy requiring competition horses to be vaccinated against Hendra virus.
But event officials and riders say the Ekka policy ignores the fact that the vaccination is not yet proven and may be dangerous to breeding ability.
It would also cause the presence of Hendra virus antibodies, meaning vaccinated horses would not be allowed to compete or be sold in many international markets, including Asia.
Show jumping enthusiast Joy Ringrose said the new rule meant "professional show jumpers are boycotting the Exhibition's World Cup competition, because organisers are insisting they have their horses vaccinated".
Gympie's chief ring steward, John Warren yesterday told The Gympie Times there was not much choice on the boycott issue, but it was possible the situation could change quickly.
The vaccination rule was at this stage unique to Brisbane.
"We'll be guided by Biosecurity and they have not yet recommended it. It's still unproven," he said.
Cooran rider Billy Raymont, rated Queensland's most successful professional show jumper, says the Ekka policy conflicts with the fact that it has not yet been fully trialled, including a possible effect on breeding fertility.
"They're not saying it's okay for stallions and breeding mares and we can't take vaccinated horses into Asia, where we sell a lot of horses."
Mr Raymont said the horses he wanted to take to Brisbane included a stallion, a potential brood mare and a World Cup competitor he will want to take "God knows where in the next 12 months".