Cambridge Professor speaks out on Horseracing whip ban

28 April 2011

Towcester race course in Northamptonshire is set to become the first of Britain’s 60 racecourses to ban excessive use of the whip by jockeys in its races.

From October 5th, jockeys at the course will not be allowed to smack a horse down the neck, although they will still be required to carry one. Jockeys will still be allowed to pass the whip from one hand to another and to hit the horse on the shoulder in a backhand position.

The issue of the whip has come under the spotlight recently after this year’s Grand National-winning jockey Jason Maguire was banned from racing for five days for excessive use of the whip on winning horse Ballabriggs. The horse had to be given oxygen at the end of the race.

James Wood, Professor of Equine Science at the Cambridge Veterinary School, told The Cambridge Student:

“While regulations on whip use have been tightened somewhat in recent years, there is still the apparent anomaly that jockeys could break the rules of racing and win a race while using their whip “excessively”, and be banned from riding for a few days, but the horse would still be registered as the winner.

“This is in marked contrast to “doped” horses which are disqualified…It will be interesting to see if the rest of racing follows Towcester, or they continue to stand alone.

“The contradiction is that many of the best jockeys regard the usefulness of the whip as an encouragement to horses to run faster as over-rated, but it is this use that probably causes the most welfare and publicity problems.”

Elspeth Carruthers – Deputy News Editor

Photo: Jessica M Cross