Day At The Track

No plans to change whipping in New Zealand

06:15 PM 10 Dec 2016 NZDT
Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print

Harness Racing New Zealand bosses say there are no immediate plans to ban whips here after a shock decision to remove them from Australian harness racing.

Australian harness racing officials dropped a bombshell today when they announced drivers will not be able to use whips in races or trials from September next year.

Harness Racing Australia chairman Geoff Want said the ban was being implemented to aid the future sustainability of the industry because times have changed, the public tolerance for whip use on horses was coming to an end and that the welfare of the horses was paramount.

The ban was also touted as a way to brand the industry as a leader in animal welfare in Australia.

So HRA will remove all whips from racing and public training tracks from the start of next season and they will be replace by a “guiding tool” which can be used to ensure driver safety with wayward horses but not to make a horse run faster.

“We are looking toward the future and want to stay ahead of the animal welfare issue,” said Mr Want.

Whips are already banned in harness racing in several Scandinavian countries and today’s announcement was praised by the Australian RSPCA, who said they are not against horse racing but the whip ban was a huge step in the right direction.

Not so enthusiastic will be some of the horsepeople in the industry, with some immediately suggesting the banning of the whip could jeopardise the safety of both horses and their drivers.

But leading driver Chris Alford, one of only two reinspeople in Australasia to partner over 5000 winners, said the ban was inevitable.

“I think it has been coming for a while and now we have to deal with it,” said Alford.

“But we will definitely need the guider, or whatever it is going to be called, for safety and to have control over the horse.”

HRA believe the ban will put pressure on the thoroughbred industry to also look at banning whips but the heads of that code are believed to already be circling the wagons to fight off such suggestions.

Harness Racing New Zealand chief executive Edward Rennell, who was at the Perth announcement today, said there are no immediate plans to ban whips in this country.

“We have recently made changes to our whip policies pertaining to how often they can be used so we will see how they go and continue to monitor the situation both at home and in Australia,” said Rennell.

Michael Guerin

Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print

Read More News About...

Stallion Name

Next article: