Playing Fair

Whip Use

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 absorbing whip.

Riders should consider the following guidance so as to minimise any possibility of being found in breach of the Rules:

  1. Urging the horse to lengthen its stride and increase its pace by first using hands and heels before picking up the whip
  2. Giving consideration to how much of the race is still left to run before starting to use the whip
  3. Showing the horse the whip and giving it time to respond before using it
  4. Having used the whip, giving the horse a chance to respond before using it again
  5. Keeping both hands on the reins when using the whip down the shoulder in the backhand position
  6. Using the whip in rhythm with the horse’s stride

Whip Rules

Following the 2022 report into the use of the whip, the rules regarding the use of the whip in British racing have been revised.    

The basic rules for use within a race, implemented as of 13 February 2023 in Jump racing and 27 March 2023 in Flat racing, are as follows: 

  • The whip can be used a maximum of  6 times in a Flat race or 7 times in a Jump race. Any more than this will prompt the stewards to review the ride
  • As well as the number of times the whip is used, The Whip Review Committee will look at the force with which it is used, whether it was used from above shoulder height, whether the horse has been given time to respond, the purpose for which the whip was used, whether the horse was in contention or clearly winning at the time it was used, and whether the whip has been used in the correct place (i.e. on the horse’s hindquarter rather than flanks)
  • Any rider found to have contravened the rules or guidance will face a period of suspension, and any rider picking up a third suspension in a six-month period will be referred to the Judicial Panel for penalty.
  • Should the whip be used four times or more above the permitted level, the horse and rider will be disqualified from the race.

For more information, please visit the BHA website by clicking here.

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