British Horse Racing Authority Review of the Whip!
The Racing Horse has digested the British Horse Racing Authority's review on whip use. It ran to 70 pages and was the first time that it consulted all members of the racing fraternity and the general public. Key points included that riders who continually commit serious whip offences could lose their licences, and from the 10 October 2011 a whip ban will apply on the days for which it is set down, regardless of the quality of racing due to take place. We believe in transparency in all things and think the new rules are fair and proper so salute the changes!
Be assured we love racing and that includes the betting angle and we want the horse carrying our betting stake to be given every chance. Racing primarily exists for the public and the bettor - important as they are the owner, trainer and jockey are of secondary importance!
Jason Maguire Betrays Racing!
Armed with these sentiments we watched the ride again that Jason Maguire gave Ballybriggs in the Grand National. Racing's largest television audience of the year saw Maguire strike his mount 17 times on the long run to the winning post after jumping the final fence and I would like to find one jockey or trainer who could justify that particular ride irrespective of the relevance. The horse had given everything before the beating!
Paul Hanagan says...
We concurred with Paul Hanagan when he said: "One thing I've learned is that the further from home you go for your whip, the less likely you are to win. It's really a last resort, but at the same time, different horses are different cases. I've ridden horses that always needed a couple of hits a long way from home to get them going."
Gareth Topham's Views
I am a much older man so thought I would obtain the views of a younger man in tune with horses and the general public so I chatted to rising star and ace racing commentator Gareth Topham (pictured) for his views on this subject. He said: "To be honest I am slightly opposed to the new whip rules as I think there are more important things in racing we could be looking at altering. The whip has been modified in so many ways in recent years to 'cushion the blow' as it were and making restrictions on how many times you can strike a horse for me seems just another way of the sport being 'diluted.' It's like with the fences at Aintree being made easier again after this years' Grand National. Yes, two horses died but if they had died in a race over the same course on either of the previous two days, (when there wasn't as big an audience), I doubt the changes would even have been considered."
He continued: "I think it is a 'quite worthless' rule as it alters from course to course. The rule states you can only hit a horse a certain amount of times from the furlong marker to the winning post or from the last jump to the winning post. On the flat that would be fine but over jumps the length of run-ins alters from course to course. Would it be fair to punish a jockey for striking his mount on the run in at Cartmel - nearly half a mile, more than he would on a short run in like at Ffos Las for example? Inevitably with extra time and the race developing more and more towards a finish a jockey will feel it necessary to use the whip that bit extra."
Thinking of Mathematics
Thinking of mathematics and jockeys he said: "Should a jockey have to do maths in his head whilst trying to win a race, particularly a major prize? What about Goldikova and Dream Ahead at Longchamp on Sunday? If there is serious prize money up for grabs, for me if it makes the difference between winning and losing, which in my opinion in most cases it does as per Rewilding at Ascot. Frankie Dettori got a huge ban for excessive use but if he had not had been as hard on his mount he might not have won. The jockey may balance the prize money he/she will win against the cost of the fine/ban. So the rule therefore may be broken."
I found myself agreeing with most of what Gareth was saying. He went on to say: "Racehorses are treated like royalty at home. They are in the highest straw, are on the best diets in the world and are given TLC treatment day in, day out. They come racing (which is what they are bred for), for five minutes. If we really wanted to hurt horses there would be much more sadistic ways. And none of us want to see horses getting hurt! I feel a lot of the time that people who watch racing and say it's cruel do not fully understand the full picture. These horses would not even be alive in the first place if they were not going to race. I think it is unfortunate that people who watch just one race a year - The Grand National for example, who therefore do not have a great perception of everyday racing seem to have such a big bearing on it's alterations. Their perception does not make them experts.
My sincere thanks to Gareth Topham for his contribution....
Peter Scudamore Worried More about other Factors
The Racing Horse readily accept a perception can be born out of ignorance and I am reminded what Peter Scudamore said on this subject: "Whenever I send a horse to the races, the last thing I am usually worried about afterwards is any whip marks on its rump. The bigger concern may be strain on its heart, shins and joints." He went on: "If you think this is the biggest issue in animal welfare, I'd take a trip down your local abattoir on Monday morning."
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