29 Apr 2011 Pre-2014 Releases

Further to previous statements, the British Horseracing Authority today confirms the timescales for the reviews being carried out into the Rules of Racing relating to acceptable use of the whip and, separately, the Grand National.

At its April meeting yesterday, the BHA Board approved a timetable for the whip review that will see the findings published and agreed actions implemented by October 2011. This timescale gives the Authority the necessary time to conduct the research, statistical analysis and consultation required in order to ensure the best outcome for racing and to avoid the possibility of unintended consequences that could come from rushed, knee jerk responses. The review into the Grand National will be conducted separately to a broadly similar timetable.

Chris Brand, Acting Chief Executive for the BHA, said:

“We have already announced that we are taking a lead on the reviews into acceptable whip use and the Grand National. As the sport’s regulator, it is our natural role to do so.

“Both reviews will be concluded by October. They are crucial for the sport, and it is vital that our approach is considered and measured, and that we spend the time it requires in getting it right. The reviews will be led by Jamie Stier, our Director of Raceday Operations and Regulation, working closely with Professor Tim Morris, Director of Equine Science and Welfare and Paul Struthers, our Head of Communications.

”Determining how the whip is best regulated within racing for the overall good of the sport is without doubt the most far reaching issue.

“The Grand National review will focus on safety, managing risk and the communication of those issues. As we have said already, we will work closely with Aintree and seek feedback from animal welfare groups and racing’s participants. If changes are to be made, it will only be after thorough, considered investigation.”

Jamie Stier, Director of Raceday Operations and Regulation, said:

“We should not lose sight of the fact that Britain has led the way amongst major racing nations in its rules on acceptable whip use and on the introduction of the cushioned whip. The use of the whip is a welfare issue but because of our rules and penalties is not a welfare problem. The perception of some is that it is cruel, but the reality is that due to our rules and only allowing a cushioned whip that was specifically designed not to cause pain, it is fundamentally not cruel.

“However, for the past 6 months, both internally and with the PJA and RSPCA, we have been looking at the effectiveness of the current whip Rules and the associated penalty structure. Following the running of the Grand National and subsequently Towcester’s contribution, this review has obviously taken on a wider resonance.

“We need to acknowledge the thoughts of the wider community on the use of the whip, but be measured in our thinking. We will seek the views and input from various sectors within the industry, including RSPCA, SSPCA and WHW, take into account focused opinion research and the views of those who watch and bet on racing. Towcester’s request to host races under hands and heels rules – very different to a whip ban – will be considered as part of this review.”