Vox Pop: Following the Tony McCoy ban, should the whip be outlawed in horseracing?

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Jockey Club executive

The vast majority of riders use the whip within the laid-down guidelines. It is a necessary part of a jockey's equipment for safety and correction as well as to urge a horse and, used correctly, it is fine. It is the abuse of the whip that should be outlawed. There was much comment about Tony McCoy having to go back to school as part of his penalty but there is nothing revolutionary in asking another professional for help. It is the first thing that Tim Henman or Colin Montgomerie do when they come off court or finish a round. There must always be room for improvement.


RSPCA racing officer

The whip is probably the most essential safety implement you can give a rider. It should not be an instrument of punishment, but can be essential in steering a horse or helping it to regain its action. Horses can be unbalanced or distracted as easily as any of us and the whip, used judiciously, can prevent accidents. We do not want to ban the whip, all we want to do is take away the excesses and have a common-sense approach. But with the advent of digital TV the look of the thing will come under increasing scrutiny, and to ignore any groundswell of objection is to invite trouble.


The Horse Whisperer

Many races are lost because of the whip being used. Horses don't move away from pressure, they tend to move into it, particularly if it is applied to the flanks. That is their best defence against this sort of attack, to turn into the onslaught and kick; if they run from a bite it is more likely that the skin will tear. I would like to see the introduction of whipless races, so that the winner was the horse that wants to win, rather than the one that is forced to. Not every horse is willing to do its absolute best but I do not believe that we have the right to hurt animals in our pursuit of pleasure.


Ex-champion jump jockey

Horses are doing the job they are bred to do and are not going to suffer any ill-effects from a couple of smacks. The rules have been tightened, and quite right. But where do you draw the line? If you ban whips, do you then ban shouting at horses in a finish, or kicking them, or even riding them? I find the hypocrisy of people who suggest that we do not care about our horses hard to deal with; the vast majority have better lives than people in Third World countries. But sport is what they are there for and is tough. As Fred Winter used to say: it's not a game out there, it's war.


Leading flat jockey

A jockey without a whip would be like a carpenter without a spanner. We need the whip to control the horse and also to give the message to go round a corner or to sustain its run. One extra crack can make the difference between winning and losing. But all horses are different and it is up to us professionals to decide; we know that for one horse one crack is one too many and for another 100 is not enough. The thoroughbred is a man-made species; the horses are looked after better than people. In England the strict regulations mean their welfare is probably the best in the world.


Former showjumper

A whip is not always a means of making a horse go faster. It controls direction as well as forward movement and in most horse sports a rider would feel undressed without one. And in both showjumping and racing a jockey should be skilful enough to use it in either hand. But its use should be controlled. Occasionally a horse will get up to win a race under a hard ride but generally if it doesn't go after two smacks it is not going to go after 22. But I do feel sorry for the jockeys, they get pilloried for trying too hard and then for not trying enough.