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New Whip Rules In Horse Racing: A Lack Of Common Sense?

The new whip rules in horse racing have been a massive point of contention in the world of racing. Many even think they lack common sense.

Former jockey Noel Fehily has spoken to BoyleSports this week to tackle some of the big issues facing horse racing today including the new whip rules.

While many people can get behind the idea of improving horse welfare the question still remains about how effective the rule changes will be.

The British Horse Racing Authority (BHA) came out in November with a report that recommended the whip being used for encouragement in the backhand position only, greater penalties for breaching the whip rules and the introduction of a whip rule review committee.

Firstly Fehily addressed changes to the whip rules, hitting out at the lack of consultation before they were implemented. The new rules have been introduced with the aim of improving horse welfare and safety by reducing the amount of times horses can be whipped during a race.

There’s No Common Sense To New Whip Rules

“I can’t understand who thought this was a good idea. Who did they consult? With your backhand, you are going to hit across the rib cage more. That is obvious, so horses would be getting hit in the wrong place a lot more. And if you are hitting them in the rib cage you are going to have horses wandering a lot more.

“Whereas if you’re getting your hand up and hitting them on the back side that’s a much better place to hit them – it’s in the muscle and horses run forward.

Getting everyone to use the backhand is only going to encourage horses to wander left and right.

“There’s no common sense used and they are doing it for the anti’s who wouldn’t know backhand or forehand. They just don’t want them hit full stop. So what’s the point? They (the BHA) were making it more complicated and backing themselves into a hole. For what? For people who don’t go racing anyway.”


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There’s Not Too Much Racing In Britain – Ireland Would Love More

“In Ireland, I think there are a lot of trainers and owners who would love more racing. If there’s a problem and the fixtures are interrupted, for instance, most will get balloted out because there could be 80 entries and the majority are going to get balloted.”

“Then you have to wait a week and you get balloted again, then you might have to wait another couple of weeks. It has happened to us with horses we have had in Ireland. Then when you do run there’s going to be 24 runners and Willie (Mullins) might have three, Gordon (Elliott) three and Henry (de Bromhead) two or three. Then, out of 24 you have perhaps four with a genuine chance and the rest? None.”

“People love complaining and moaning.”

I don’t think British racing is in as bad a state as everyone is saying.

“Everyone wants the prize money to be a bit greater, but I’d rather have a slice of a small cake rather than no slice of the big cake.”

“That is what happens in Ireland, where you have racing dominated by the big owners and the big trainers, so trying to get a slice of that cake isn’t very easy. Whereas in England, you can dodge and duck and dive and at least you’re going racing and being competitive.”

“In terms of getting owners into the game in Ireland, it’s tough. Irish racing is strong and you have some brilliant horses, but it isn’t easy getting owners into horses if you’re buying a horse not at the top end.”

“Look at Gigginstown and Michael O’Leary. He had said he was cutting back and he may well be with the number of youngsters he used to buy. But, he still seems to be buying a few form horses who are ready to go.”

No Need To Reduce British Fixtures Too Much

“They could cut down a little bit, but there’s not a massive need to reduce it too much and it is not as bad as people make out.

Maybe some of the summer jumping could go.

“There should be a break of maybe six or eight weeks to make it more competitive, say after Sandown in April.

“You get nice ground through May and June and then you get to July, August and the start of September and the ground is so hard.”

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