YouGovLabs writer

Horse racing fans give their views on the controversial new BHA rules on whipping 

Several horse racing fans who took our SportLab poll on the subject have shared their disagreement over the new regulations on using the whip, in light of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) changes which recently oversaw the introduction of new rules governing the whipping of horses by jockeys.

The new regulations limit the number of times that the whip may be used in a particular race (seven in flat races and eight over jumps), with automatic bans and financial penalties for jockeys who flout them. In fact, following the furore over the new rules, which saw jockeys including Tony McCoy receive strong punishments, the BHA has amended the rules, reducing the punishments for offenders.

Within those self-confessed horse racing fans who answered our poll, the diversity of respondents’ views was notable – as seen in the selected comments below.

Scepticism over new rules

Many of the SportsLab horse racing fans told us that they do not support the new rules, with many differing reasons behind their holding this view.

Some feel that the reforms were attempting to tackle a non-existent problem; others believe that the issue needed tackling but that the new policy does not satisfactorily solve matters. Safety and spectacle are cited as reasons for allowing the whip to be used more often than the new rules permit, with many claiming that the whip itself is misunderstood by people outside the sport.

In support of the new rules

Some of the SportsLab horse racing fans who answered support the new rules, however. Many point to the perceived cruelty to horses as the primary driver behind their support, but other factors are cited too, with several arguing that the talent of horses and riders will shine through more under the new rules. A number express support for the rules, but suggest that they could perhaps have gone further.

In conclusion…

The use of the whip in horse racing remains an emotive topic, as proved by the depth and passion with which many who took our poll answered the question. The diversity of views, even among horse racing fans, suggests that this may be an issue which will see debate and disagreement for years to come yet.


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