New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing recognises that animal welfare perception concerning whip use is creating on-going debate internationally. NZTR works diligently to ensure that strong provisions and guidelines around whip use are enforced for the benefit of both horses and humans.
The racing community considers that whip use is necessary for:
- Safety - as a measure to steer the horse and minimise potential collisions and falls
- Integrity - encouraging due effort from the horse if used when in winning contention or achieving a stakes bearing position.
Current Padded Whip
Rules 638(3) of the Rules of Racing regulates the use of the whip.
These were reviewed by NZTR in an open consultation in the period between December 2020 and May 2021 and resulted in a revision to the Rule with effect from 1 September 2021. The Rule is wide-ranging, but the most notable provisions are:
638(3)(e) In a Flat Race or Jumping Race, a trial (including jump-outs and/or tests for certification purposes), a Rider must not use his or her whip in an excessive, unnecessary or improper manner.
638(3)(f) Without limiting the generality of subrule 638(3)(e), in a Flat Race or Jumping Race, a trial (including jump-outs and/or tests for certification purposes) a Rider must not use his or her whip:
- forward of the Rider’s horse’s shoulder or in the vicinity of its head; or
- using an action that raises the Rider’s arm above shoulder height; or
- when the Rider’s horse is out of contention; or
- when the Rider’s horse is showing no response; or
- after passing the winning post; or
- in a manner that causes injury to the Rider’s horse; or
- when the Rider’s horse is clearly winning; or
- when the Rider’s horse has no reasonable prospect of improving or losing its position; or
- in a manner where the seam of the flap is the point of contact with the horse, unless the Rider satisfies the Stewards that that was neither deliberate nor reckless.
638(3)(g) Subject to the other requirements this Rule 638(3), in a Flat Race or trial (including jump-outs and/or tests for certification purposes), a Rider must not:
- strike a horse with a whip more than 5 times prior to the 100-metre mark (other than in a slapping motion down the shoulder with the whip hand remaining on the reins); or
- strike a horse with a whip in consecutive strides at any stage of the race.
The penalties imposed on a Jockey escalate where offences are repeated or in major races.
- Ensure that the general provisions and specific guidelines of the whip rule are appropriately updated and can be consistently interpreted and enforced
- Ensure continued guidance and training, particularly for apprentices, on ‘hands and heels’ riding skills to minimise an over-reliance on whip use
- Investigate the availability and practical use of new technology such as whips with data loggers and accelerometers, to provide objective data on whip use during racing.