Horse Race

Whip rules: New British racing guidelines will take effect in early 2023

Jockey's whipThe new whip rules will be introduced in jump racing on 9 January, but not enforced until 6 February

New rules disqualifying horses whose jockeys seriously breach whip guidelines will be introduced in British jump racing from 9 January.

A bedding-in period, before sanctions are enforced, ends on 6 February.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) announced the proposals in July and has now approved their introduction.

Disqualifications will apply to riders who use four or more strikes above the permitted threshold.

Similar rules will be introduced in Flat racing on 27 February, with penalties starting from 27 March.

The new rules will be enforced a month before the Cheltenham Festival.

Jockeys must use the whip in the backhand position only, with acceptable use remaining at seven in a Flat race and eight in a jumps race.

They will face double the length of suspensions – up to a 28-day ban – for overuse in major races, which includes all class one and two races in both codes, as well as any race with prize money over £27,500 on the Flat and £20,000 over jumps.

Disqualifications will not be applied on race day, meaning they will have no effect for betting purposes.

A new whip review committee will be launched to make decisions on penalties, which, it is anticipated, will meet once a week.

Brant Dunshea, chief regulatory officer for the BHA, said: “We recognise that some of the new rules are going to take some time to get used to for some jockeys, which is why we have factored in time for communication and education as well as a bedding-in period before the rules and penalties are implemented in full.”

The changes were put forward in a report by the BHA’s whip consultation steering group.

If the rules had been in place earlier this year, Grand National winner Noble Yeats would have been disqualified.

Winning rider Sam Waley-Cohen was suspended for nine days and fined £400 for using his whip above the permitted level and in the incorrect place.

The amateur jockey did not serve the ban as he had already announced his retirement.

A minority of the steering group argued that the whip should be removed for encouragement, as is now the case in Scandinavia, but this was not adopted.

David Jones, chairman of the whip consultation steering group, said: “This whole process, from start to finish, has always been about listening to the views of all our audiences and making decisions which best preserve the perception of our sport and the welfare of our horses, while also recognising the role that the padded whip plays in safe and fair race riding.”

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) said, when the proposals were first announced, the new rules were “a real missed opportunity for horse welfare”.

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