New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) is currently seeking consultation from industry participants and other interested parties regarding potential changes to the whip rules.
The most recent amendments were made in October last year. This led to the current directive which restricts the use of the whip to no more than five times prior to the final 100m, after which it may be used at the rider’s discretion.
While there is a growing view within the industry that the whip will, in time, be phased out, there is ongoing debate as to how long that process might take. Other racing jurisdictions have already imposed more restrictive whip usage than New Zealand with France limiting whip use to just five times within a race; Ireland, eight times and the UK, seven. From October 2020, jockeys riding in California were prohibited from using the whip more than six times in a race, and from using it more than twice in succession without letting the horse respond.
Among the matters for consultation are the number of times a whip should be used throughout a race; whether this should be allowed to be in succession; the technique of whip use allowed; the design of the whip; penalty guidelines; and what amendments should be made regarding jumping races.
The consultation document and the accompanying background and context can be found here.
The consultation period will close on 12 February 2021, following which all feedback will be considered and recommendations will be made to meetings of the NZTR Integrity and Welfare Committee and the NZTR Board.