Every year, a whole lot of hundreds of fans flock to Cheltenham Festival to observe the 28 races spread across 4 days. But this 12 months, the buildup was muddied for some by the controversial latest whip rules that were introduced in British racing on February 13, only one month before the event began. Here, Express.co.uk takes a better have a look at the principles — and the controversy.
Why do jockeys use whips?
The brand new rules — which could lead on to disqualification if there’s a serious breach — immediately caused a stir with 20 jockeys found to have broken the principles in the primary week of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) introducing them.
Some say the whip — which is often as much as 70cm long, foam-padded and energy absorbent — doesn’t cause pain to horses with it being an important tool for the rider, however the Royal Society of the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) argues that horses can feel pain.
Opponents also imagine it shouldn’t be used to make the horse ride faster. However the BHA say it may be used to trigger a horse to “gear change” but shouldn’t be used with excessive force. The whip can be used for safety purposes corresponding to to maintain the horse’s attention or to steer it.
What are the brand new rules?
In 2011, latest rules were introduced, restricting the variety of times the whip may very well be utilized in one race. This has now been reduced again by one to seven in jumps races and 6 in flat races.
If a jockey goes above the limit, they will be suspended and in the event that they use the whip 4 or more times above the limit, their horse is disqualified entirely.
Offences are referred to the Whip Review Committee which not only examines how persistently the whip is used but other aspects corresponding to how much force is used and where the whip was used.
In February, just every week after the brand new rules were introduced, Lunar Discovery became the primary horse to be disqualified for a breach of the brand new whip rules after jockey Charlotte Jones used the whip 11 times.
READ MORE: Cheltenham’s most controversial moment that also makes punters squirm
What does either side of the talk say?
Paul Nicholls OBE told Betfair ahead of the Cheltenham Festival getting underway that he was “dissatisfied” with the best way BHA had handled the matter.
As an alternative, he felt that by introducing the principles so near the event the industry was “shooting itself within the foot” with it bowing to the fallacious person because it will not be a “welfare issue”.
He added: “There are people within the BHA who have to take an actual have a look at themselves and think are they doing the best thing for the industry because I believe they’re letting us down…
“This whole thing is fallacious. I get that we’ve got to be just a little bit careful with the whip, but we don’t wish to appease individuals who don’t understand the sport.”
Nonetheless, horse racing consultant Dene Stansall told GB News that he disagrees, explaining that the “very cruel implement” can hurt the horse.
Mr Stansall, who works with Animal Aid, said on Saturday: “The concept you really hit an animal in public is distasteful for the overwhelming majority of British people.”
He stressed that horses occasionally get hit within the face with the whip and in addition wear a bit within the mouth, adding: “It ought to be banned because jockeys don’t stick with the principles.”
Last 12 months, 429 whip offences were committed by jockeys, in keeping with Animal Aid statistics, with 100 committing two or more offences.