British MP Mike Hancock has joined a campaign to ban the use of the whip in horse racing. His call follows an investigation by the News of the World which uncovered nearly 700 whip offences recorded on British racecourses in 2007.
Hancock, the Liberal Democrat member for Portsmouth South, wrote to the British Horseracing Authority this week, telling the organisation it had not been effective in "curbing excessive use of the whip".
His criticism comes after Animal Aid's call for the prosecution of jockey Eddie Ahern under the Animal Welfare Act. Ahern whipped his horse with such excessive force that weals came up on the horse's body. Animal Aid has asked Nottinghamshire police to launch a formal investigation with a view to bringing the case to court.
In a News of the World article Hancock said "to whip horses in the way that jockeys do is unbelieveable, especially when horses are going nowhere."
Support for Hancock is building, and the Portsmouth news has reported that racing expert John McCririck is backing the whip ban. He said: "Horses are now the only living creatures that humans are allowed to hit, and so bad is the position that, to prove to connections and punters that they are trying, jockeys have to use their whip!"
• The Press Association reported on February 1 that British jockey Michael O'Connell had been banned for 20 days over his use of the whip, following his ride on Zaffie Parson when third in a handicap hurdle at Kelso. O'Connell admitted he was guilty of improper riding and that he used his whip with excessive frequency, excessive force, in the wrong place and causing the mare to be wealed.