RSPCA Victoria is pleased to see that Racing Victoria will trial limited whip use races and significant penalties for jockeys who breach the rules in the upcoming Country Mile Race Series. This is a positive first step toward phasing out whip use in thoroughbred racing.
The RSPCA is opposed to the use of whips for the purpose of enhancing performance in racing due to the pain and distress they inflict on horses. Furthermore, most Victorians agree. A state-wide survey conducted in July – August 2020 showed that seven in ten (69%) Victorians believe horses should not be hit with a whip in the normal course of a race.
RSPCA Victoria recently welcomed an announcement from Racing Victoria (RV) seeking national action on whip reform and calling for ultimate prohibition on use of the whips. RV sought to transition to this through a reduction in the use of the whip to between five and eight occasions per race. This would be a significant improvement on current practice where whip use is at the jockey’s discretion in the final 100m of a race.
A recent study showed that whipping horses does not make them run faster, and debunked traditional arguments that the whip is needed for performance enhancement and to maintain racing integrity.
Reforming whip rules would be a positive change, however our position remains firm that the ultimate outcome should be that whips are not used for the purpose of enhancing performance due to the pain and distress inflicted on horses. This would ensure that racing performance is not determined by inflicting pain through whipping but rather by sound breeding, quality training and outstanding horsemanship.