RSPCA attacks whip U-turn
YESTERDAY'S decision by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) to make changes to the whip rules has drawn an unimpressed reaction from the RSPCA.
Paul Bittar, the new BHA chief executive, proposed and saw approved a batch of amendments at the organisation's board meeting, including the length of penalties officials can apply to riders overusing the whip.
Rather than it being an automatic breach when a rider uses the whip eight times on the Flat and nine times over jumps, the figures become the trigger point for the stewards to review the ride in question.
They will be given more discretion in deciding how the rider has used the whip, and the severity of the penalty itself.
The revised penalty structure, which will take effect tomorrow, means one strike over the limit will still warrant a two-day ban, but two more will now incur a four-day suspension, rather than five days as at present, and repeat offences will be treated on their own merits, rather than multiplying as they do now.
David Muir, the RSPCA's equine consultant, said: “It is absolutely staggering that the BHA has taken such a backward step, less than six months after the whip rules were introduced to react to public concern regarding the use of the whip in racing.
“This action flies in the face of scientific research which shows that excessive use of the whip actually increases the likelihood of falls.”
He went on: “This is a black day for the racing industry.”