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Covid-19 delays push possibility of new whip rules back to autumn

The use of the whip has been considered by a steering group
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Any new whip rules will not be introduced until the autumn after delays to the work carried out by the Whip Consultation Steering Group.

The 15-member steering group, which includes trainers John Gosden and Henry Daly, as well as jockeys Tom Scudamore and PJ McDonald, was scheduled to outline its recommendations late last year but they are not expected until February.

In a statement the BHA blamed the delay on the pandemic, citing logistical issues and the impact on the schedules of those in the steering group.

There was a consultation period between July and September to garner views on the current use of the whip in British racing, and an online questionnaire received more than 2,000 individual responses. This was followed by discussions with industry leaders this winter.

The initial consultation was broadly welcomed by participants and after announcing the process, the BHA stated it would be reasonable to expect "some level of reform" to the rules, which were last adjusted in 2011 following the work of a group chaired by Andrew Merriam.

Any changes to the new rules were expected to come into place this summer but the steering group will not present its recommendations to the BHA board until April, rather than February as was proposed.

A full report and list of the recommendations is set to be released in May. There would then be a period of time allowed for training, education and the bedding in of any new rules, which it is anticipated will not come into force until the autumn according to a BHA timeline.

After the initial consultation period, BHA chief regulatory officer Brant Dunshea said: "We're extremely grateful to everyone who has taken the time to submit their views as part of this open consultation. The views submitted through this process will now be assessed and play their part in shaping any proposals made by the steering group." 

The current rules allow for eight strokes of the whip at any time during a jumps race and seven on the Flat, with a system of fines and suspensions triggered when jockeys exceed those numbers. 

Swedish racing authority Svensk Galopp on Thursday announced it would ban the use of the whip for encouragement from April, although riders will still be able to carry one for safety purposes.

Whip Consultation Steering Group members

David Jones (chair) BHA independent regulatory non-executive director
Tom Blain Managing director, Barton Stud
Henry Daly Trainer
Celia Djivanovic Owner
Tom Goff Founding partner, Blandford Bloodstock
John Gosden Trainer
Baroness Hayman of Ullock Member of the House of Lords
Dr Neil Hudson MP, academic and veterinary surgeon
Nick Luck Broadcaster and journalist
PJ McDonald Jockey
Tom Scudamore Jockey
Roly Owers CEO World Horse Welfare and veterinary surgeon
James Savage Assistant to Sir Michael Stoute
Nick Smith Director of racing and public affairs at Ascot
Sulekha Varma North West head of racing at the Jockey Club

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The steering group will not present its recommendations to the BHA board until April, rather than February as was proposed
E.W. Terms