Jockeys will face stricter rules when using the whip from next month – and tougher penalties when they misuse it.
The new regulations were announced today (27 September) by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).
The amount of times the whip can be used during a race has been “roughly halved”, with jockeys only able to use the whip seven times in a Flat race (eight times over jumps) and only five times in the last furlong or after the last jump.
A jockey who has incurred a suspension of three days or more will lose his riding fee and winnings. There will also be increased penalties for repeat offenders and any jockey that is found in breach on three occasions could face losing their licence.
A review into the use of the whip in the sport – Responsible Regulation: a Review of the use of the whip in Horseracing – was launched in November 2010.
In April a heated debate about whip use was sparked after Grand National-winning jockey Jason Maguire received a five-day ban for overuse of the whip on Ballabriggs. The BHA said it received more complaints about his riding than about the death of two horses during the race.
The review found that the use of the whip “remains appropriated and necessary” for the safety of both jockeys and horses but that current penalties weren’t effective enough and the amount of jockeys breaking the rules was “unacceptable”
“The message is loud and clear – we will continue to lead the way in responsible regulation and will make difficult decisions in the best interests of the sport,” said Paul Roy, chairman of the BHA.
Professor Tim Morris, director of equine science and welfare, added: “Use of the whip is, understandably, a sensitive issue. Safeguarding the welfare of racehorses is a priority.”
As well as consulting industry bodies, including the National Trainers Federation, Professional Jockeys Association and British Racing School, welfare bodies the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare were also involved.
The RSPCA has “cautiously welcomed” the new rules but said it will monitor the implementation.
“We hope these changes will mean that the few jockeys who have misused the whip will think twice in future. I hope that from now on jockeys will keep their use of the whip to a minimum. Otherwise they making the sport of horseracing appear cruel,” said spokesman David Muir.
But activist group Animal Aid said: “The proposed changes increase the penalties but they provide no genuine deterrence,” adding they are still pushing for a total ban.
The new guidelines and penalties will come into effect on Monday 10 October.
A list of 19 recommendations and a 70-page report has been released. To view the full report as a PDF file visit: http://www.britishhorseracing.com/whip-review/WhipReview.pdf