Racing Victoria (RV) has today confirmed that it will not be conducting any ‘whip for safety only’ race trials for the foreseeable future, including during the 2021 Festival of Racing.

RV does have plans for a new race series to feature during the 2021 Festival of Racing, the details of which will be announced under separate cover shortly.

RV outlined publicly in September 2020 its belief that the current national whip rules are no longer appropriate. RV believes that whip reform is essential if racing is to retain its existing audiences and, importantly, ensure that it is attractive for the fans and employees of tomorrow.

RV stated that it will always support the carrying of a whip by jockeys on safety grounds and that the industry’s immediate priority should be reducing its maximum permitted usage to between five and eight times per race in line with many other leading international jurisdictions.

RV formally tabled its position at last month’s Racing Australia (RA) Board meeting where it also reaffirmed that it is a willing and active participant in the review of the national whip rules being undertaken by RA’s Riding Advisory Protocols Panel.

It is RV’s hope and expectation that the RA review will be well advanced within the first quarter of next year and that meaningful progress can be realised.

In the meantime, RV will continue to engage with industry stakeholder groups and racing customers on the important subject of whip reform, which will include exploring ways to obtain insights into the potential impact of RV’s recommended reduction in whip use.

The current Australian Rules of Racing permit the use of the whip a maximum of five times in non-consecutive strides prior to the 100m mark and at the rider’s discretion in the final 100m of a race where its use in consecutive strides is permitted.

Britain (7 times per race), Ireland (8), Germany (5) and France (5) limit the number of permitted uses across the totality of the race, while in the USA, the states of California and Kentucky have announced recent reductions in their permitted totality (6).

Update from the Editor: Since March 28th 2021, all Thoroughbred races in the state of New Jersey, USA, are being run under ‘whip for safety only’ rules that prohibit the use of the whip for purposes other than to protect the safety of horses and jockeys.