The National Hunt course at Towcester in Northamptonshire has announced it will take a tougher stance on whipping effective October 5, 2011
Jockeys will no longer be able to whip horses behind the saddle or down the neck. They will be permitted, however, to hold the whip in a back hand position and strike the horse down the shoulder.
With the new rules in place, officials are optimistic the product will have more appeal to women and families. Horsemen, however, see things quite differently.
Jockeys and trainers insist the ban would be unsafe because it would be harder to keep the horse in a straight line.
“We have the steepest finish in the country so there has always been a concern about the horses getting tired,” said Lord Hesketh, who owns the jumping Towcester course. “The public did not enjoy seeing the horses getting whipped and whipped as they ran up the steep hill. Plus, if you keep hitting the horse and push it too hard it will make a mistake and both horse and jockey will suffer.”
“A jockey who is found to have abused the rules gets a two or three day ban but still keeps his prize money, so he doesn’t care,” added Hesketh. “By bringing in the ban, it will be fairer for those who abide by the rules and do not use the whip so much.”
The decision by Towcester will increase pressure on the British Horse racing Authority (BHA) to enforce the same rules across all racecourses.
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