September 1, 2009

Horseracing whips toned down in Ontario

The Ontario Racing Commission has mandated cushioned horseracing whips and restrictions on how often jockeys can use them.

The new rules are similar to those recently introduced in New York, California and Australia, the Toronto Star reported.

The length of the new whips, or crops, is the same, although the popper at the end is cushioned to take away some of the sting, the newspaper said.

Gunnar Lindberg, a former top jockey and now a racing commission steward at Woodbine race track in Toronto, told the Star part of the rationale was to give racing a softer look for potential new fans.

In the old days, not too many people noticed the whipping and flailing and where jockeys were hitting their horses. he said. But if we want new people to come to the track they have to be sure the horse is not being abused.

The new rules say a jockey may only use the whip three times in a row and then allow the horse to take two strides before it can be used again.

As for fines, a jockey's third offense now results in a three-day suspension and a fourth offense means an automatic suspension, the Star said.