British racecourse wants to ban whip use

April 22, 2011

A British racecourse's decision to ban jockeys from whipping their horses is unlikely to get the nod of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) in the immediate future.

The authority, the sport's governing and regulatory body in Britain, was commenting on the decision by the directors of the National Hunt course at Towcester, in Northamptonshire.

Towcester general manager Kevin Ackerman, in outlining the reasons behind the decision, said: "The groundswell of public opinion seems to be reaching a crescendo that the whip is cruel to horses. That seems to be the public's perception.

"The policy at Towcester is we advocate jockeys carrying the whip, but we don't advocate it being used behind the saddle in any stage of the race. We are viewing it as a case for the BHA to use us a pilot racecourse to test the water on this subject."

The directors want all races to be run under the same regulations as those for the apprentice "hands and heels" series at their jumps meetings from October 5.

The authority has already announced a review of the use of the whip following complaints after the Grand National, when winning rider Jason Maguire picked up a five-day ban for excessive use.

Towcester's initiative cannot be implemented without the authority's approval.

"We only received Towcester's request on Thursday afternoon," the authority's head of communications, Paul Struthers, said.

"This is certainly not something that can happen without the permission and agreement of the BHA.

"Whilst the vast majority of riders comply with the rules and use the whip responsibly, we decided to review our rules relating to acceptable use of the whip some time ago, and certainly before Aintree and the subsequent media interest.

"Towcester's request will be looked at as part of this wider review. We have already had several discussions with David Muir from the RSPCA about it and statistical analysis has been ongoing for some time.

"World Horse Welfare and the RSPCA will also be involved.

"This will be a wide-ranging review of the issue, which will seek the views and input from various sectors within the industry. It will also take into account the views of those who watch and bet on racing as well as wider public perception, through polling and a survey.

"We are not in a position to put a timescale on when we will reach our conclusions. How the whip is best regulated within racing for the good of the sport is a crucial issue for the sport to get to grips with, and it is vital we get it right."