Whip Ban Whisper
By RAY THOMAS
June 4, 2004
CONTROVERSIAL horse whisperer, Monty Roberts, is on a
crusade to ban Australian jockeys using whips in races.
In a guest editorial for the popular Racetrack magazine
this month, the controversial Roberts said whips only make horses "run
Roberts, on whose recommendation Racing NSW recently
changed policy and banned the use of stock whips on problem horses behind
the barriers, now wants whipless races in Australia.
That's right. Ban the whip completely! Imagine the
punters' lament when in a tight finish your hard-earned gets nosed out in a
photo and all your jockey can do is ride hands and heels? One good crack
with the whip could have made all the difference, right? Well, no, according
to Roberts. He believes the whip actually makes a horse run slower.
"When horses are whipped, they brace themselves, then
push back against the lash," Roberts wrote. "Eventually they grow to resent
the rider and the process. "
Roberts maintains this theory has been tested in
America where it was found the slowest furlongs were when horses were
whipped. "They actually ran faster without the whip," he said.
Roberts may find sympathy for his argument with horse
lovers but he won't find much support among the punters at Rosehill
The American harness racing industry tried whipless
racing a few years ago and, whether it was coincidence or not, betting
turnover is said to have fallen 30 per cent.
Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'Landys said it was
unlikely whipless racing will ever be introduced.
"To ban the use of a whip by jockeys in races would be
a monumental decision, changing the very fabric of our racing," V'Landys
Racing NSW chief steward Ray Murrihy said any
accusations that racehorses are beaten up or mistreated are groundless.
"I would argue that there is no better cared for animal
than the racehorse," Murrihy said.
Murrihy pointed out that the whips used by American and
European jockeys are considerably longer and heavier than those in use here.
Mick Dittman was called "The Enforcer" during his
career because of his vigorous use of the whip.
He is adamant most racehorses need "persuading" to try
"Believe me, only the very best racehorses, champions
like Lonhro, will try their best without the whip. They're the exception.
Most horses need the whip," Dittman said.
"Instead of banning the whip, why not look at other
measures like reducing the length and weight of the whip or how many times
the whip can be used in a race."
Trainer John Hawkes described calls to ban the whip as
"Put it this way, if a jockey is not hitting the horse
with the whip, the stewards and punters will think he is not trying," Hawkes
Leading Sydney jockey Chris Munce said riders can
"feel" when a horse is trying and doesn't need the whip. "You know when the
horse is giving its best and you don't need to hit them," Munce said.
Hong Kong-based Shane Dye weighed into the debate last
"Octagonal would never have won the races he did
without the whip," Dye said.
The Daily Telegraph
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