Rule changes means less whipping for NZ racehorses

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From September 1, the whip will not be allowed to be used on the horse in consecutive strides at any stage of a race in New Zealand.
Image by Clarence Alford

Changes to the rules surrounding whip use in New Zealand Thoroughbred racing come into effect from September 1, with the whip not to be used in consecutive strides of the horse at any stage of a race.

This change will have most effect at the end of the race, since at present, riders can use their own discretion over the last 100m, though there will also be some impact on already tight restrictions on the use of the whip up to the final stages.

The changes followed a period of wide consultation by New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) around the use of the whip, involving both industry participants and the general public.

The NZTR Board, noting how well New Zealand jockeys had adapted to past changes, and considering detailed analysis of current average whip use in flat races, supported the change to non-consecutive use which will mostly affect the final 100 metres of a race.

NZTR’s Welfare and Sustainability manager Martin Burns said the consultation recognised previous rule changes to restrict the use of the whip in New Zealand, comparison with overseas jurisdictions, and community perceptions, which is a driver of future public engagement and investment in racing.

“Throughout the process we have had constructive and positive engagement from the New Zealand Jockeys’ Association,” Burns said.

“Our participants are well aware of the need to ensure racing remains attractive and relevant to the widest possible audience.“

Leading jockey Lisa Allpress, a four-time NZ premiership winner, said she was confident that the riders would quickly adapt to the changes and that the changes would not reduce the sport’s competitiveness.

“There has been a significant shift in the use of the whip in recent years and these changes will sustain that momentum,” Allpress said.

The rule changes and the subsequent penalties for breaches of these have been circulated to the NZ Jockeys’ Association and will be available on the NZTR website.

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