Stiffer penalties announced following whip review

Winners of races could be disqualified if their rider contravenes whip rules under new regulations announced by the British Horseracing Authority.

Under the revised rules, a jump jockey who uses their whip 12 or more times – with 11 strikes or more for Flat jockeys – in any race could be thrown out. In major races, as well as being disqualified, the jockey could also receive a 28-day ban.

Some leeway may be allowed if it is deemed they were using their whip in the interests of safety or if it has been used down the shoulder with both hands on the reins.

A review of the rules was recommended by the independently-chaired Horse Welfare Board as part of its five-year welfare strategy published in February 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic delayed its initial progress.

Views across the industry were taken into account, along with the results of a public consultation held last year, by the Whip Consultation Steering Group – the body which was formed to assess the responses to the consultation and propose any recommendations that may go before the BHA board.

A total of 20 recommendations were put forward by the Steering Group and all were approved by the BHA board.

Following the process, new guidance was published on Tuesday, with a strengthened penalty framework the major change, along with the use of the whip only being allowed in the backhand position.

The most famous recent example of a rider breaking the whip rules but keeping a major prize was this year’s Grand National.

Amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen was suspended for nine days – which was irrelevant as it was his last ride before retirement – and fined £400 for using his whip above the permitted level after jumping the last fence and in the incorrect place on the run to the line.

Among the other recommendations which were approved included refining guidance notes relating to the whip rules, establishing a whip review panel and increasing financial penalties for amateur riders.

Further research into the whip has also been recommended, while the BHA should regularly consider the design and specifications of the approved whip according to the report.

It is hoped the new rules will come into effect in late autumn.