A ban on the whip in horse racing is in sight!

Posted on the 22nd April 2011

In a move that could lead to the end of the use of the whip in horse racing, Towcester racecourse in Northamptonshire has announced that, from October, it will ban jockeys from beating horses in all of its races.

Riders will be able to carry a whip for ‘safety’ and use it in a limited manner in a backhand position. It is reported that, if this restrictions are breached, jockeys will be disqualified.

Other racecourses are expected to follow Towcester’s lead. The news was welcomed by Animal Aid, which – for more than a decade – has been at the forefront of the campaign to ban the whip. In March 2004, we published A Hiding To Nothing, based on a meticulous analysis of 161 races that were run between October and November 2003. The results clearly demonstrated that not only is whipping cruel – it is pointless.

In March this year, we published the results of a damning investigation revealing widespread, repeated and flagrant breaches of the British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) rules on whipping. Beaten to The Line reveals that there were a staggering 887 breaches of the BHA’s rules during 2010. One of the horses who was whipped excessively collapsed and died immediately after the race in which he was abused. The jockey received a one-day racing ban but kept his winnings. Fifteen jockeys committed 10 or more offences during the year.

Pressure is mounting on the racing industry to introduce genuine horse welfare reforms, especially since the public outcry over the deaths of two horses in April’s Grand National. The winning horse, Ballabriggs, was severely beaten in the final stages of a race that left him so exhausted and dehydrated he required oxygen. The winning jockey, Jason Maguire, has a record of beating horses.

Animal Aid will be pressing harder than ever to ensure that a full whip ban is introduced at all Britain’s 60 racecourses without delay.

In response to the move by Towcester racecourse, The RSPCA’s equine consultant, David Muir, reiterated his support for use of the whip. He told the Daily Telegraph: ‘We are not seeking an outright ban but we can’t have some jockeys behaving the way they do.’

Says Animal Aid’s Horse Racing Consultant, Dene Stansall:

‘Animal Aid, for more than a decade, has been at the forefront of the campaign to ban the whip. As well as reports and statistical analyses, we have visited courses up and down the country protesting about the pain and trauma caused to horses when jockeys whip them. The public was outraged by the sight of the winning horse in last month’s Grand National being severely whipped, even though he was exhausted and close to collapse. More astute figures within the racing industry now recognise that change is imperative. We would certainly welcome the introduction of this ban and a move to the hands and heels system. This will be a major welfare advance and we could not really ask for anything more of Towcester. The whip would still be carried in case it was needed in an emergency but it would no longer be used for “encouragement” or for hurting horses. We will now be pressing for the other 59 racecourses follow suit.’


For more information or interviews, contact Andrew Tyler or Dene Stansall on 01732 364 546.

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