The whip

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

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 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.

 

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 for use within a race are as follows: 

  • The whip can be used a maximum of six times in a Flat race or seven times in a Jump race. Any more than this will prompt the stewards to review the ride
  • 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 it was used from above shoulder height, 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)
  • Any rider found to have contravened the rules or guidance 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
  • Should the whip be used four times or more above the permitted level, the horse and rider will be disqualified from the race

View the full Rules and Guidance

 

 

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  

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.

The Committee meets weekly to adjudicate over any incidents in the previous week. The findings of their meetings are listed here:

 

Data summary 

The following sets out a summary of data around whip ride referrals and offences from the introduction of new rules earlier in 2023 up until 29 October 23.

Summary

  • Total number of rides: 62,225
  • Referrals: 597
  • Breaches found: 511
  • % of rides: 0.82%

Offence type

  • Above Permitted Level = 322
  • Without time to respond = 93
  • Incorrect place = 24
  • Above Shoulder Height = 23
  • Down shoulder in forehand = 18
  • Out of contention = 16
  • Excessive down shoulder = 7
  • Clearly winning = 3
  • Weal = 4
  • Excessive Force = 1

Offences by licence type

Licence type Rides Offences Offence rate % of total rides % of total offences
All 62,225 511 0.82% 100% 100%
Fully Professional 48,054 294 0.62% 77.2% 57.5%
Apprentice 8,131 91 1.12% 13.1% 17.8%
Conditional 3,440 58 1.69% 5.53% 11.35%
Amateur 1,635 44 2.69% 2.63% 8.6%
International 965 24 2.49% 1.5% 4.7%

 

Note: Fully Professional jockeys have accounted for 77.2% of rides but only 57.5% of offences in this period.

 

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.

 

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