Whip Consultation Steering Group to draw on broad range of racing, political, equine welfare and media expertise

06 May 2021 BHA Features

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today confirmed the membership of a Whip Consultation Steering Group which will have responsibility for oversight of the process and decision-making in relation to the forthcoming consultation regarding the use of the foam-padded whip in British racing.

The group draws on individuals from a wide range of backgrounds across the racing industry including trainers, jockeys, owners, breeders, racecourses and stable staff. It also includes representation from wider sectors including politics, horse welfare and the media.

The group is chaired by former racecourse Stewards’ Panel Chair, racecourse committee member and racehorse owner David Jones, who is also an Independent Regulatory Director on the Board of the BHA.

As part of the independent Horse Welfare Board (HWB)’s strategic plan, A life well lived – a new strategic plan for the welfare of horses bred for racing 2020-2024, a recommendation was made that a public consultation should be conducted by the BHA regarding the use of the whip in British racing.

This consultation aims to gather and assess the viewpoints of industry participants, non-industry stakeholders and wider public audiences, regarding rules, usage and penalties. The Horse Welfare Board noted that, in their view, the need to increase penalties for whip offences is a clear, minimum recommendation. Otherwise no explicit recommendations were made as to what the outcome of the consultation should be.

The Steering Group will play an active role in the process, not only ensuring that the consultation – which is being run by a BHA project team – is managed in line with objectives and expectations, but also providing practical experience, expertise and insight. Once it has reviewed and assessed the consultation feedback, it will aim to reach a consensus and make recommendations that help to determine the outcome of the process.

Full membership of the Whip Consultation Steering Group is as follows:

  • David Jones (Chair), BHA Independent Regulatory Non-Executive Director
  • Tom Blain, Managing Director, Barton Stud
  • Henry Daly, Racehorse trainer
  • Celia Djivanovic, Racehorse owner
  • Tom Goff, founding partner, Blandford Bloodstock
  • John Gosden OBE, Racehorse trainer
  • Baroness Hayman of Ullock, Member of the House of Lords
  • Dr Neil Hudson MP FRCVS, Member of Parliament, academic & veterinary surgeon
  • Nick Luck, Broadcaster and journalist
  • P.J. McDonald, Professional jockey
  • Roly Owers MRCVS, Chief Executive Officer, World Horse Welfare, & veterinary surgeon
  • James Savage, Head Lad/Assistant to Sir Michael Stoute
  • Tom Scudamore, Professional jockey
  • Nick Smith, Director of Racing and Public Affairs, Ascot Racecourse
  • Sulekha Varma, North West Head of Racing, Jockey Club Racecourses, Clerk of the Course (Aintree Racecourse)

To ensure alignment between the BHA’s project team and the Steering Group, the BHA’s project lead and executive lead will also attend Steering Group meetings.

The Steering Group held its first meeting last week. The Group will now work towards finalising an agreed timescale for the consultation process, which is currently planned to run in the second half of this year.

David Jones, Chair of the Whip Consultation Steering Group, said:

“It is essential that the consultation process is fair, open and transparent and the views of all parties are considered. In addition, any decisions must be made by those who have a deep understanding and knowledge of the subject matter and who are willing to both represent and consider a range of perspectives. The role of the Steering Group will be to ensure that all of these requirements are met. The breadth of expertise and experience that has come together to form this group is truly impressive.”

Brant Dunshea, Chief Regulatory Officer for the BHA, said:

“The whips used in British racing are foam-padded and were designed with input from the RSPCA. Its use in races is subject to strict controls.

“The Horse Welfare Board were clear, however, that the use of the whip is an issue of public trust in the sport, and that the racing industry must be mindful of public opinion if it is to safeguard its long-term future.

“By carrying out this consultation we are looking to facilitate a positive, open debate about an important issue. Any decisions will be for racing to make, and the Steering Group’s expertise from across the racing industry – alongside the perspectives of representatives of other independent sectors – will play a leading part in this process.”

Notes to Editors

  1. The Horse Welfare Board’s strategic plan A life well lived – a new strategic plan for the welfare of horses bred for racing 2020-2024 can be found here: http://media.britishhorseracing.com/bha/Welfare/HWB/WELFARE_STRATEGY.pdf
  2. More information about the padded whip used in British racing and the rules around acceptable use can be found here: https://www.britishhorseracing.com/regulation/the-whip/