Animal Aid

Horseracing whipping rules breached more than 450 times in just six months

Posted 6 September 2010

An Animal Aid analysis of whipping offences in horse racing over the first six months of 2010 reveals a cynical disregard for the British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) rules, with 101 jockeys offending on more than one occasion and two riders breaching the rules no fewer than nine times during the study period. Nine horses were hit so hard that they were left with weal marks.

Beaten to the Line (published 6 September) is based on racecourse stewards’ reports, available via the British Horseracing Authority, for the period 1 January - 30 June 2010. The Animal Aid study not only reveals that horses are whipped in a calculated attempt to push them beyond their limits, but that the regulations are breached with such frequency, that jockeys are either incapable of controlling themselves or have no respect for the BHA’s guidelines or authority.

The report shows that between 1 January and 30 June 2010:

  • There were 453 breaches by 243 jockeys
  • 101 of the 243 jockeys offended on more than one occasion
  • 16 horses appeared on the list twice in that six-month period, nine having been brutalised by the same jockey on each occasion
  • Two jockeys – Barry McHugh and Andrew Heffernan – each abused the whip regulations nine times in the 6-month period
  • Nine horses were hit so hard that they were left with weals
  • More than £1.6 million in prize money was won by jockeys in races in which they breached the regulations

Jockeys who were punished (usually by a day or two’s racing ban or a caution) still collected their winnings for coming first or being placed. Most of the prize money would have gone to the horses’ owners, with around 5-10 per cent going to the jockeys themselves.

The racing industry is well aware that the public is troubled by the use of the whip. Commentators have openly questioned its use and have declared that whipping horses is keeping prospective punters away from racing.

Says Fiona Pereira, Animal Aid Campaigner and author of the new report:

Animal Aid was genuinely shocked by the endemic level of abuse of race horses by jockeys with the whip. We had believed that – for example – incidents of horses being hit so hard that they wealed were rare. In fact, there were nine such incidents in just six months. Our report reveals that the whip is used brutally and excessively by jockeys and that the regulatory body’s punishment regime is not just lax but ineffective in curbing the violence. To make matters worse, offending jockeys are rewarded for their cruelty by being allowed to retain their winnings. The whip has been banned in Norway and now is the time to introduce a similar ban in British racing.

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