BHA revises regulations on whip’s ‘backhand-only rule’

Maria Debrincat 1 year ago
BHA revises regulations on whip’s ‘backhand-only rule’

The BHA Board has resolved issues with the backhand-only rule while retaining the objective of making it visibly more palatable to the public

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced a number of changes resolving the way the whip is used in the sport.

The Whip Consultation Steering Group in the summer had established a clear set of goals, which the BHA Board had previously approved. They mentioned that it’s important to ensure that whip use is more controlled and wiser in order to improve the public impression of it.

Ryan Moore, British flat racing jockey star, comments on the revised regulations.

After a recent board meeting, the rule that stipulated that the whip could only be used in the backhand position has been repealed, and its place has been taken by a change to the limitations on how many times the whip may be used throughout a race. Because of this, the thresholds for use have been lowered to a maximum of six times in a Flat race and seven times in a Jump race down from seven and eight respectively.

This modification is in response to new issues that jockeys have brought up in recent weeks, including some details that were not discussed during the consultation or technical discussion phases.

“It became clear through the views raised in the last few weeks, and which were presented to the BHA Board, that the backhand-only rule could potentially have caused difficulties for some riders,” said Joe Saumarez Smith, chair of the BHA Board.

This includes an input that some jockeys with shoulder or collarbone issues could find it more difficult to utilise the whip only in the backhand. Backhand whip use also increased the possibility of striking horses in their ribs as opposed to their rump, which raised complaints from jockeys.

Additionally, misuse offences like utilising the whip above shoulder height, without giving someone a chance to react, or in the wrong spot will result in enhanced fines. There will also be consequences for using the whip above the permissible level.

Following a period of discussion including the BHA, PJA (Professional Jockeys Association), and jockeys, the BHA Board got together to take into account additional arguments made by all parties before deliberating and approving the rule changes.

In a statement issued by the PJA, three-time champion jockey Ryan Moore applauded the many well-intentioned people who have invested time on this subject.

“Horseracing must be competitive, have integrity and aim for the highest possible standards from all participants.

“I welcome the fact that the backhand-only rule has been discarded and that the BHA will continue to discuss and work with us in the future and hope that British racing and other jurisdictions will work together to find long-term solutions.”

The new rules are currently in effect during the “bedding in” period in Jump racing; however, full adoption over Jumps doesn’t start until February 6th.

According to the organisation, this will give Jump jockeys more than two months to get used to the new regulations before the 14 March commencement of the Cheltenham Festival.

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