Several adjustments have been introduced by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) in regards to the use of the whip in the sport.
The regulation which stated that the whip must only be used in the backhand position has now been removed, the decision having been finalised at a recent Board Meeting.
Instead, the governing body has now reduced the amount of times the whip can be used to a maximum of six in a flat race and seven times in a Jump race, previously seven and eight, respectively.
“It became clear through the views raised in the last few weeks, and which were presented to the BHA Board, that the backhand-only rule could potentially have caused difficulties for some riders,” stated Joe Saumarez Smith, Chair of the BHA Board.
“However, in considering making changes it was essential that the BHA Board were not doing anything to dilute the outcome of the whip report.
“The BHA Board has therefore agreed to these further changes, which resolve the issues with the backhand-only rule, but retain the objective of making whip use visibly more palatable to the public, therefore helping to safeguard engagement with the sport amongst our fans present and future.”
Furthermore, there will be penalties for use above the permitted level, and misuse offences such as using the whip above shoulder height, without time to respond or in the incorrect place will be further increased.
“We now hope and expect to see these new rules being respected and a visible change in whip-use to be brought about amongst our jockeys, and those riding over here,” Saumarez Smith continued.
“The Board also expressed the view that the sport should try to avoid any situation arising again whereby, following the conclusion of an extensive consultation process, further pertinent information comes to light. This point has been strongly emphasised to the PJA and we are pleased that the PJA has agreed to review its consultation processes in the light of this.”
The implementation date for the new rules are in place as of today for the ‘bedding in’ period in Jump racing, whereas full implementation over Jumps then begins on 6 February.
The organisation explained that this will allow for Jump jockeys over two months to adapt to the new rules before the start of the Cheltenham Festival, which starts on 14 March.
In Flat racing the soft launch commences on 27 February and full implementation on 27 March.
David Jones, Regulatory Independent Non-Executive Director for the BHA, and Chair of the Whip Consultation Steering Group, concluded: “Efforts were taken to listen to the views of jockeys from both codes, over many hours. This consultation has arguably been the most thorough undertaken by the BHA in relation to any specific regulatory reform in the past.
“In order to ensure that this process was suitably rigorous we pushed back the planned autumn implementation date for new rules.
“However, we are committed to listening to our participants, and when further views and information come to light very late in the day, and following the conclusion of that process, we were duty bound to consider it, and make representations to the BHA Board accordingly.”