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Animal Defenders of Westchester
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Whip Ban Whisper

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 slower".

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 tomorrow.

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 said.

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 their best.

"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 "ludicrous".

"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 said.

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 night.

"Octagonal would never have won the races he did without the whip," Dye said.

The Daily Telegraph

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From the Daily Telegraph


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