Whilst there is a requirement for all jockeys to carry a whip, there is no obligation on riders to use their whip. The whip should only be used for safety and encouragement.
Any use of the whip must be appropriate, proportionate, professional, and take account of the Rules of Racing and guidelines laid down by the BHA.
The whip may be used to encourage a horse – to have the horse focused and concentrated – to perform at its best but the stimulus provided by the use of the whip must be limited so as not to compromise the welfare of the horse.
Jockeys can only carry a specifically designed and approved energy bsorbing whip.
Riders should consider the following guidance so as to minimise any possibility of being found in breach of the Rules:
- Urging the horse to lengthen its stride and increase its pace by first using hands and heels before picking up the whip
- Giving consideration to how much of the race is still left to run before starting to use the whip
- Showing the horse the whip and giving it time to respond before using it
- Using the whip in the backhand position
- Having used the whip, giving the horse a chance to respond before using it again
- Keeping both hands on the reins when using the whip down the shoulder in the backhand position
- Using the whip in rhythm with the horse’s stride
The permitted number of uses of the whip with hands off the reins is 7 times for Flat races and 8 times for Jumps race.
Stewards will consider whether to hold an enquiry if a rider has used his whip 8 times or more in a Flat race or 9 times or more in a Jump race or misused the whip in some other way.
When deciding whether or not to hold an enquiry, Stewards will consider how the rider has used the whip during the course of the entire race, with particular attention to its use in the closing stages, and relevant factors such as:
- The manner in which the whip was used, including the degree of force
- The purpose for which the whip was used
- The distance over which the whip was used and whether the number of times it was used was reasonable and necessary
- Whether the horse was continuing to respond.
Provided that the manner in which the whip had been used was measured, Stewards may choose to disregard occasions when the whip has been used in the following circumstances:
- To keep a horse in contention or to maintain a challenging position prior to what would be considered the closing stages of a race
- To maintain a horse’s focus and concentration
- To correct a horse that is noticeably hanging
- Where there is only light contact with the horse
- Following a mistake at an obstacle
- To correct a horse that is running down an obstacle.
Stewards may be less tolerant about should a rider use the whip 8 times or more in a Flat race or 9 times or more in a Jump race:
- When the horse is young or inexperienced
- When a rider continues to use the whip when not being directly challenged for a finishing position
- When a rider fails to recognise that his use of the whip is not having the intended effect.
Having found the jockey in breach, the Stewards must decide on the level of penalty for the offence as per the below table:
Schedule (B)6 Part 2 – USE OF THE WHIP
|Examples of Mis-use||Number of hits which amount to a BREACH||Minimum penalty|
|Report made by Veterinary Officer|
|Minor weal||5 days|
|Moderate weal||8 days|
|Arm above shoulder height||2||2 days|
|Without regard to stride (Rat-tat-tat)||3||2 days|
|Excessive force||1||2 days|
|Without time to respond|
(allow 3 strides per stroke)
|Showing no response||3||5 days|
|Out of contention||3||5 days|
|Clearly Winning (or other placing)||2||2 days|
|Past the Post||2||2 days|
|Incorrect Place||1||2 days|
|Down shoulder in forehand||2||2 days|
7 times in a flat race/
8 times in a jump race
|No. of hits amounting to breach above permitted level||Minimum Penalty|
|Flat Race||1||2 days|
|Jump Race||1||2 days|
Offences which incur a suspension of 2 – 6 days are to be treated separately from those offences that incur a suspension of 7 days or more.
If it is a jockey’s fifth suspension of 2 – 6 days within the previous 6 months they will refer the matter to the BHA. The Disciplinary Panel will usually impose a suspension of 14 – 60 days suspension with an entry point of 21 days.
If it is a jockey’s fourth suspension of 7 days or more within the previous 6 months they will refer the matter to the BHA. The Disciplinary Panel will usually impose a suspension of 2 months – 6 months suspension with an entry point of 3 months.
Group 1 and Grade 1 exemptions will apply to those suspensions of 4 days or less.
If a professional jockey is suspended for 7 days or more on a horse placed first, second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth in a flat race with a Total Prize Fund of £27,500 or more or Jumps Race with a Total Prize Fund of £20,000 or more, he/she may also be fined a sum between £200 and £10,000 (£100 and £5,000 in the case of an apprentice). Amateur riders may also be fined a sum of either £200 or £400.
If the suspension is for 7 or 8 days, the professional jockey shall be fined 20% of his prizemoney percentage, 10% in the case of an Apprentice Jockey.
If the suspension is for 9 days or more the professional jockey shall be fined 40% of that payment, 20% in the case of an Apprentice Jockey.
If the suspension is for 7 or 8 days, the Amateur Jockey shall be fined £200
If the suspension is for 9 days or more the Amateur Jockey shall be fined £400