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Violations of whip rules almost double in 2023

For immediate release 18/01/2024

Violations of whip rules almost double in 2023

The British Horseracing Authority fails to stem a tide of abuse

Disturbing figures released by Animal Aid show that whip offences against race horses have increased by 48.5% in 2023, when compared to 2022.

2023 Summary

  • 637 whip offences against race horses
  • 315 offending jockeys (159 committing two or more offences)
  • Jockey Kielan Woods abused 9 different horses with his whip (two on the same day)
  • Five horses were whipped so hard that they were wealed

Most offences were committed by using the whip above the permitted level of strikes; 7 in a jump race, 6 in a flat race. Other offences include hitting a horse without time to respond, in an incorrect place or with excessive force.

Despite two extensive reviews into the use of the whip, racing's welfare regulator, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), has consistently failed to stem a tide of abuse against horses. It highlights the ineffectiveness of their current penalty system.

This alarming situation can only strengthen a growing public concern for race horses. The result must be an end to the cruel use of the whip. It is the only acceptable outcome in preventing horses' suffering at the hands of their jockeys.

Says Dene Stansall, Animal Aid Horse Racing Consultant:

‘Using a whip on any horse is coercive, brutal and outdated. It should not be seen as a riding aid. It fails to improve performance and inflicts mental and physical suffering to any horse who has to endure each and every painful beating. Racing needs to lead the field and remove it from the industry throughout. With racing crowds on the downslide, it should adapt to modern views that have an increasing concern for animal welfare.' 

Notes for Editors