Horse Racing

Harsher whip penalties to be brought in following Horse Welfare Board strategy reveal

JOCKEYS who break the current whip rules will face stiffer penalties from the autumn.

On Thursday, the new Horse Welfare Board (HWB) revealed their five-year strategic plan, including a recommendation for a whip review and, at a minimum, the introduction of harsher punishments.

The document contains 20 recommendations to the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) to help address ‘public misconceptions’ about the sport.

And the issue of jockeys’ use of the whip should be dealt with ‘as soon as possible, ideally by the end of October 2020’.

They also recommended that the BHA give ‘particular consideration’ in their consultation to ‘use of the whip over shoulder height, where evidence suggests that greater deterrents are required, and whip modification offences, penalties for which are felt to be inadequate’.

Increased penalties for repeat/multiple offenders should also be considered, the strategic plan states.

The HWB advises that the BHA should seek views and ideas on imposition of fines and/or suspensions for jockeys, as well as prize-money sanctions, during the consultation.

The strategic plan went a step further and said the BHA should be on the front foot in ‘gathering views, and potentially consider’ the future banning of the whip for encouragement.

It recommended the regulatory body took the lead on the conversation ‘in order to foster a controlled, constructive and managed discussion’.

But they stressed that the only concrete recommendation on the whip is that the BHA bring in harsher penalties to try and bring the number of offences down.

In response, the BHA accepted all the recommendations in the HWB report, including consultation on the rules and penalties for misuse of the whip and an increase in penalties as a minimum measure.

A statement said: “The consultation will be wide-ranging and cover topics such as penalties for whip offences, and what defines acceptable use.

“The BHA will not support any particular outcome during the consultation, beyond the requested increase in penalties.

“The consultation will be open, allowing all interested parties to express a view, in line with the approach taken by government and other regulators.

“All opinions will be taken into account, but the BHA is aware that an open consultation needs to be appropriately managed, and overall this is a decision for racing to take.

“The BHA aims to meet the Horse Welfare Board’s request that changes be in place by October 2020.”

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