Jockeys who use the whip more than seven times in a flat race, or eight times in a jumps race, face stiffer penalties under new rules being introduced by the British Horseracing Authority.
A jockey who fails to adhere to the new frequency limits – which are roughly half what they were before – will suffer a five-day minimum suspension. The previous minimum was a caution. The jockey will also forfeit his riding fee and prize money percentage.
Penalties will increase if a jockey breaches the rules on more than one occasion. The penalty for a second offence will be double that of the first.
The BHA announced that changes this morning after a review which included input from animal welfare bodies, including the RSPCA.
The new rules are easy to understand, which will help all jockeys ride within them. Frankie Dettori
Use of the whip in horse racing came under increased scrutiny in April, when jockey Jason Maguire was found to have struck the horse Ballabriggs 17 times during the Grand National at Aintree. Maguire was suspended for five days as a result.
Jockey Frankie Dettori, who was himself banned after hitting Rewilding 24 times inside the final two furlongs of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Ascot, welcomed the changes.
“I am not proud of having fallen foul of the whip rules in the past,” he said, “but I have never harmed a horse. These new rules are easy to understand, which will help all jockeys ride within them.”
Sir Henry Cecil, 10-times champion flat trainer, said: “The BHA has done an excellent, thorough job with their review, and I welcome these changes, which will hopefully serve British racing well.”
It remains to be seen what impact this will actually have – whether or not it will make a difference. Louise Roberts, League Against Cruel Sports
The RSPCA has cautiously welcomed the rule changes, but it says it is disappointed that jockeys will still be able to use the whip in the forehand position.
“We will be monitoring their implementation to see if they have made a real difference to horse welfare,” said RSPCA equine consultant David Muir.
Louise Roberts, from the League Against Cruel Sports, told Channel 4 News: “Our position is that we welcome the decision and we’re glad the industry has taken the concerns over whipping so seriously.
“But it remains to be seen what impact this will actually have – whether or not it will make a difference and how closely it will be monitored.”
The new guidelines come into effect on Monday, 10 October.