Whip rules in racing: Jockeys past and present have their say on consultation launch as issue is put to public

Debate around the use of the whip in British racing is a hot topic once more with the public asked for their views on the issue ahead of potential changes to the rules.

A 10-week consultation has been launched by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) aimed at gathering and assessing the viewpoints of industry participants, non-industry stakeholders and wider public audiences, regarding rules, usage and penalties related to the whip.

In British racing, the whip used is foam-padded and was designed with input from the RSPCA. Its use in races is strictly controlled but has been the subject of much criticism.

  • ‘All options considered’ as whip use debate is put to public
  • Racing live on Sky Sports

Former jockey Jason Weaver…

“For me, a jockey without a whip is like a plumber without a spanner. However, there are some bad operators and there are some excellent operators.


“The fact that the discussion has been opened to the floor is the most important thing. We can say our piece but we must see every side of the argument.

“I advise anyone who is going to put their ideas forward to look at all of the videos that are provided regarding the whip.

“You have to ride according to the rules and our rules are very tough and have changed dramatically over a good number of years.

“It probably is going end up with tighter penalties as far as the riders are concerned.”

‘Whip use has never been better’

Experienced jockey Paul Hanagan…

“In all my years of riding I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in a better place – the whip at the minute.

“I think we’ve got people to learn more about it and understand about it.

“I’m really happy and in a good place with the whip at the minute. Any more twinges with it I’m not sure.

“I get the public’s perception of it, seeing people walk out with whips in their hand, but from a safety point of view: I went round Musselburgh the other day, sharp right-hand turn and if I didn’t have my whip in my left hand I don’t think I’d have got round the bend at all. That sums the whip up.

“You customise your whip to the horse that you’re riding. If one needs a bit of a tap to get things done then fine. You treat the horses as they are.”

‘I expect more changes’

Former jockey Freddy Tylicki…

“I don’t know how long it’ll take but in time I expect there will be another change to it all.

“It’ll be a very interesting consultation. It’s quite important to get the perception of the public and ask a variety of people, not just those within the industry.

“‘Does it harm a horse?’ I believe it doesn’t. I was always brought up to mind a horse and look after it the best you can.

“‘Has the whip changed in recent years?’ Of course it has. It’s a proper cushioned one.

“‘Do jockeys need a whip?’ I believe they definitely do, for safety aspects.

“Maybe the industry has to talk about it a little more to educate the wider public about it all. There are a lot of grey areas and it’ll be good to talk about it all.”

‘Whip needed for safety’

Young jockey Tom Marquand…

“We’re competitive sportspeople but I think safety has to come into it so much.

“As long as we’re staying within the rules. Looking at the stats over the last few years, we’ve been pretty good on the whole.

“It’s something that needs addressing and looking at but I think we’re in a pretty good place with it.

“I know the younger jockeys are getting a better education. I’ve come in with the ‘seven flick’ rule and it’s pretty hard to break on a regular occasion.

“[The whip] is designed to make noise. You do need it there to keep them straight and for that safety aspect.”

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