Data Shows Decrease in Breaches of British Racing Whip Rules

Data Shows Decrease in Breaches of British Racing Whip Rules

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has published data which confirms a further decrease in the number of whip offences in 2015.

A detailed BHA report indicated a 9% decrease in offences in 2015 compared to 2014, with just 0.61% of rides now incurring a penalty. Compared to 2010, the last full year before the revised whip rules were introduced, this equates to a total decrease of 48% in the number of offences, despite the thresholds for use having been effectively halved.

Further headline figures include a 40% reduction in cases of interference compared to 2010, and a year-on-year decrease of around a third in offences incurring a suspension of seven days or more. However, the number of winning rides incurring a suspension in Group or Grade 1 contests increased from five to 10 of the 72 races run in 2015, alongside an overall increase in the number of offences committed in such races.

“The new data is encouraging and is evidence of an ongoing cultural change in the use of the whip by riders based in Britain, in line with the objectives of the whip review,” said Jamie Stier, director of raceday operations and regulation for the BHA. “Those objectives include reducing the number of offences, creating a change in culture towards the whip and safeguarding equine welfare.

“Prior to the 2011 whip review the number of offences was rising at an unacceptable rate,” he continued. “However, under the new rules the number of offences has nearly halved. Bearing in mind that the thresholds for use were also effectively halved, this equates to a substantial, positive change to the manner in which the whip is being used in Britain.

“The use of the whip in British Racing is not a welfare problem, but it is a welfare issue,” Stier said. “It is essential that the sport is seen to put the welfare of the horse first at all times. The rules and controls that we now have in place, along with the padded, energy-absorbing design of the whip, ensure that this is the case.”

He noted that one area of concern in the data is an increased frequency of offences in races at the top level.

“We have committed to a further analysis of this data and through the normal annual process will be consulting with the Professional Jockeys Association to ensure that the Rules and penalty structure provide a sufficient deterrent, while remaining fair and proportionate,” Stier said.

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