Is Whip Use Important to Thoroughbred Racing Integrity? What Stewards’ Reports Reveal about Fairness to Punters, Jockeys and Horses
University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA 5034, Australia
School of Geosciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
Dene Stansall, Animal Aid, The Old Chapel, Bradford Street, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1AW, UK
School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 October 2020 / Revised: 21 October 2020 / Accepted: 22 October 2020 / Published: 29 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Equids
As a multibillion-dollar industry involving gambling and animals, fairness is essential to thoroughbred racing. This is referred to as racing integrity. Whilst there are comprehensive rules and regulations governing equipment and conduct, whip use is the most publicly visible enforcement of integrity in racing. As a tool for “encouragement”, whip use is believed to give everyone a fair chance of winning, including owners, trainers, jockeys, horses and punters. As a tool for “steering”, whip use is also believed to be essential for the safety of the horse and jockey. However, the impact of whip use on steering and safety has not been studied. In this article, we compare “whipping-free” races in Great Britain, where whips are held but not used with the more commonplace “whipping-permitted” races. Our analysis of stewards’ reports for 126 races involving 1178 starters over three years found no statistically significant differences between stewards having anything to report, movement on course, interference on course, incidents related to jockey behaviour or race finishing times. Our findings, that whip use is not related to racing integrity, support the normalisation of “whipping-free” races, which we expect to improve horse welfare and social acceptance.