Six-month review leads to adjustments to whip penalty structure and processes

31 Jul 2023 BHA Features

Following a recent six-month review of the whip rules, penalty structure and process alongside the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) and a group of senior jockeys, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today implemented a selection of adjustments to the penalty structure and processes around the whip rules.

The six-month review formed part of the ongoing dialogue and meetings between the BHA, PJA and jockeys which has been in place since prior to the introduction of the new rules and which has resulted in a number of previous alterations.

The changes, which have been implemented following approval by the Rules Committee today, are:

  • If a rider has been found to have used their whip just once above the permitted level, then the minimum penalty may be reduced dependent upon the race type and rider’s previous record:
    • Flat Race
      • Where a rider has had 100 or more GB rides since a previous whip offence the minimum penalty shall be reduced by one day to 3 days.
      • Where a rider has had 200 or more GB rides since a previous whip offence the minimum penalty shall be reduced by two days to 2 days.
    • Jump Race
      • Where a rider has had 75 or more GB rides since a previous whip offence the minimum penalty shall be reduced by one day to 3 days.
      • Where a rider has had 150 or more GB rides since a previous whip offence the minimum penalty shall be reduced by two days to 2 days.
  • The criteria for which races will incur a double penalty for use of the whip above the permitted level has been adjusted. Previously this applied to all races of Class 1 or 2. Under the new framework it will apply to all Class 1 races and any Class 2 race with total prize money of £150,000 or more, or any Class 2 race restricted to Apprentices, Conditionals or Amateur Jockeys only.
  • Riders will now be referred to the Judicial Panel for ‘totting up’ of whip offences after four offences of use above the permitted level in a six-month period, as opposed to three. It will remain the case that a rider will be referred to the Judicial Panel if they commit five offences of any type in a six-month period (this can be a combination of above permitted level and other misuse offences.
  • When considering a referral, the top end of the penalty range which the Judicial Panel might impose has reduced from six months to four months. The penalty guidance now states that the Panel shall impose a suspension of between 14 days – 4 months with an entry point of 28 days.
  • In cases where a jockey has exceeded the maximum threshold for whip use by just one use, they may elect to have the potential breach dealt with on the day by the raceday stewards, rather than waiting for the Whip Review Committee (WRC) to meet to assess the ride. In such cases the jockey would waive the right to appeal any decision.
  • The WRC will now only be able to retrospectively review a ride within a maximum of seven clear days of the potential offence taking place, save where it involves a potential horse disqualification which may be considered at any time.
  • When considering whether a rider has breached the rules around use of the whip above the permitted level the WRC may, in exceptional circumstances, exercise discretion and discount individual uses which have taken place before the starting line, providing such use was reasonable, proportionate, and clearly and unequivocally for a corrective purpose only.

Sam Angell, Chair of the WRC, said: “These changes reflect an ongoing process to improve the new whip rules and penalties, while retaining the original objectives, which are to ensure more judicious use of the whip for encouragement, improve the perceptions of whip use and ensure that the outcomes of races are fair.

“The BHA remains extremely grateful to the PJA and the senior riders who have engaged so constructively with this process. This dialogue will remain ongoing.”

Six-month data summary

The following sets out a summary of data around whip ride referrals and offences since the introduction of the new rules.


  • Total number of rides: 37,428
  • Referrals: 425
  • Breaches found: 360
  • % of rides: 0.96%

Offence type

  • Above Permitted Level = 219
  • Without time to respond = 79
  • Incorrect place = 16
  • Above Shoulder Height = 15
  • Down shoulder in forehand = 11
  • Out of contention = 9
  • Excessive down shoulder = 6
  • Clearly winning = 2
  • Weal = 2
  • Excessive Force = 1

Offences by licence type

Licence type Rides Offences Offence rate % of total rides % of total offences
All 37,428 360 0.96% 100% 100%
Professional 28,851 204 0.71% 77% 57%
Apprentice 4,196 57 1.36% 11% 16%
Conditional 2,575 52 2.02% 7% 14%
Amateur 1,118 30 2.68% 3% 8%
International 688 17 2.47% 2% 5%


Note: Professional jockeys have accounted for 77% of rides but only 57% of offences in this period

Apprentice, Conditional, Amateur and International riders combined have accounted for 23% of rides but 43% of all offences.

Sam Angell added: “We continue to see a reduction in the rate of offences, which is a testament to the measures being taken by jockeys as they continue to adapt to the new rules, for which they deserve great credit.”

Notes to editors:

1. Previous announcements and rule changes: