The whip

In British racing the use of a foam padded, air cushioned whip is permitted, with strict controls on its use.

2022 Whip Report

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.

A full consultation was held with the public and racing industry in 2021. In June 2022, the BHA published 20 recommendations as part of a FULL REPORT  relating to the use of the whip in British racing.

The recommendations were proposed by the Whip Consultation Steering Group, which consisted of experienced individuals from jockeys, trainers, to members of the racing industry, media, government and horse welfare sectors.

 

British horseracing’s whip report recommendations

The Whip Consultation Steering Group’s recommendations designed to be considered as a package of measures based on the following core principles and objectives:  

  • Developing rules which foster more considered and judicious use of the whip for encouragement
  • Improving the style and perception of whip use 
  • Greater focus on education and improving standards 
  • Greater consistency in application of the rules 
  • Introducing a penalty framework which acts an effective deterrent against misuse

Download the 20 whip report recommendations

British horseracing’s whip report implementation

The 20 revised rules and penalties regarding the use of the padded whip in British racing will be implemented from 6 February 2023, following a four-week ‘bedding in’ period.  

The revised whip rules and penalties were proposed by a Whip Consultation Steering Group consisting of experienced individuals from jockeys, trainers, to members of the racing industry, media, government and horse welfare sectors. Their proposals were submitted following an extensive consultation process.  

The implementation of the changes to British racing’s rules and penalties regarding the use of the padded whip follows approval by the BHA Board.  

Prior to the 6 February date, there will be a four-week ‘bedding-in’ period which allows jockeys time to adapt to the new rules. During this period jockeys will be asked to ride under the new rules but will not be subject to the new penalty framework.   

Full details of the rules, guidance, penalties and procedures can be found here:  

What sort of whip is used in British racing?

The current design of the whip was developed with input from the RSPCA. The whip is foam-padded and energy absorbing, comprising a composite spine with a polymer surround, encased in thick foam padding.

There is only one current accredited supplier of whips for use in British racing, to ensure that whips carried by jockeys in Britain conform to required standards. Jockeys’ whips are checked by the Clerk of the Scales to ensure they are in good condition before they are used in a race.

Why do we use the whip?

Whips are carried first and foremost as an essential aid to horsemanship and safety. This is consistent across all equine activities which involve exertion on the part of the horse.  

The use of the whip in British racing is restricted to safety, correction and encouragement. By “encouragement” we mean using the whip as an aid to activate and focus the horse, so the horse realises its potential by giving its best.  Use of the whip to coerce is not permitted, and the rules are designed to reflect this.

The Whip Review Committee

The Whip Review Committee, made up of Stewards, is responsible for evaluation of all rides and any necessary sanction or action, to increase consistency and drive ongoing improvement in riding standards  

 A breach shall be found wherever a rider has used the whip above the permitted level or has misused the whip.

Potential breaches of the whip rules will be referred to the committee by the stewards on raceday. In addition, the Committee may identify issues from their own review of races.

Current rules and limits on use

Following the 2022 report into the use of the whip, the rules regarding the use of the whip in British racing are being revised.    

The basic rules are as follows:  – The whip can be used a maximum of seven times in a Flat race or eight times in a Jump race. Any more than this will prompt the stewards to review the ride  – The whip may only be used in the backhand position, except when required for safety reasons  – As well as the number of times the whip is used, The Whip Review Committee will look at the force with which it is used, whether the horse has been given time to respond, the purpose for which the whip was used, whether the horse was in contention or clearly winning at the time it was used, and whether the whip has been used in the correct place (i.e. on the horse’s hindquarter rather than flanks)  – The Whip Review Committee will consider the ride as a whole, when determining whether the rider is in breach of the rules  Any rider found to have contravened the rules will face a period of suspension, and any rider picking up third suspension in a six-month period will be referred to the Judicial Panel for penalty. 

Disqualification: 

One of the core recommendations proposed by the Whip Consultation Steering Group was for disqualification to be introduced for offences in which the whip has been used four times or more above the permitted level in all races   

 Disqualification offences will be considered by the Whip Review Committee away from raceday and therefore results of races are not affected for betting purposes.

To find out about more about the BHA’s role in horse welfare, click here