This Thursday, consultation would begin around the use of the whip during races, which could result in some significant changes. The consultation was supposed to hold last year but had to be postponed due to the pandemic.
The first phase of the consultation would include an online questionnaire which would be open to the public for 10 weeks. The questionnaire would feature questions such as: what the rules should allow for use of the whip, whether the existing penalty framework provides sufficient deterrent to prevent rule breaches, if disqualification should be considered as a penalty for rule breaches, and more. Basically, the aim of this questionnaire is to get responses from a wider audience concerning the place and use of whips in horseracing.
Chief Regulatory of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), Brant Dunshea, said that he expects some level of reform to come out from this consultation; “Whilst nothing has been pre-determined, no decisions have been made and no options are off the table, I think it would be a reasonable expectation there would be some level of reform as a consequence of this process.”
The issue of whipping in horseracing has been a burning topic for a while now and in the past few months, we have seen jockeys fined for excessive use of the whips. By excessive use, it could mean hitting the horse one stroke more than required or whipping it at a time when it is not permitted.
The last time the rules on whipping were reviewed, last 10 years, it was agreed that a maximum of 7 strokes was allowed on flat races while 8 could be used in jumps.
Dunshea further cleared that the purpose of the consultation was to review the penalty structure around the excessive use of whips, rather than a “referendum” on use of the whip; “I want to emphasise, this is not a polarised yes/no debate or vote or referendum on whether the whip stays or goes. That’s really important to note. The responses are a guide that will be considered by the steering group. Ultimately it’s a decision for racing to make.”
Written by: Leon Osamor