UK racing authorities to crack the whip over horse abuse
JOCKEYS are to be further restricted as to how many times they can use the whip in a race.
And riders will also face steeper punishments if found guilty of using the whip with excessive frequency.
The British Racing Authority are set to announce the changes later on Tuesday morning following a 10-month review into the use of the whip.
The BHA-led review, compiled with input from the RSPCA, was the subject of much scrutiny when Jason Maguire was found to have struck Ballabriggs 17 times when winning the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree in April. Maguire was suspended five days.
Frankie Dettori was also banned nine days after he hit Rewilding 24 times inside the final two furlongs of the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.
An outright ban on using the whip during races had come under discussion during the review.
But Professor Tim Morris, director of equine science and welfare for the BHA, believes this sanction would be unnecessary.
He told BBC Radio 5 live: "We don't think, on considered review, that the whip is cruel.
"Jockeys have told us they need a whip for safety, and to get the best performance from out of their horse.
"It (the whip) could be cruel if misused. If you hit a resting horse with a stick it can definitely be cruel, but it's very different from a padded racing whip in a race.
"What we've done is given very, very clear guidelines and very tough penalties for breaching them.
"We've got strict guidelines on the frequency - it can be used seven or eight times, depending on the type of race - when it can be used, and how repeatedly it can be used."
Morris feels jockeys' safety was a major factor in not banning the whip in racing.
He told BBC Breakfast: "We believe that excessive use (of the whip) is not only wrong, but counter-productive.
"Animal welfare groups have not told us in defined circumstances that the whip is cruel.
"Animal rights groups are claiming the whip is cruel but that's a different matter, that's because they are against racing.
"If you are on a half-tonne of horse going at nearly 40mph over a jump and there are 20 other horses round you, you need a tool to steer, correct its stride, and balance a horse.
"It's a very risky sport and we've got to look after jockeys' safety."