where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2023-01-10 09:46:59  
Horseracing needs to be aware of Animal Welfare


Two items with respect to animal welfare have been highlighted in the recent past. The one was an incident in Australia where a horse was struck too many times within a designated area and recently in Cape Town when a jockey urged his horse to the line with 16 strikes and was hauled over the coals for the ride.

The Australian incident was precedent setting in the fact that the horse actually deadheated for first in the race only to be demoted to second place.

In what was described as a "gross breach” of whip rules, a landmark decision from Racing Victoria officials resulted in Blake Shinn receiving a 12 meeting suspension and AU $2000 fine. Shinn used the whip 12 times, including six consecutively before the 100m-mark aboard My Yankee Girl, who dead-heated for first with Invincible Caviar in Saturday’s $130,000 Furphy Festive Season Sprint (1200m).

In South Africa, Jockey Bernard Fayd’Herbe was charged with a contravention of Rule 58.10.2 (as per Guideline M on the use of the crop) in that he misused his crop by striking AL MUTHANA (AUS) more than 12 times in the entire race. Jockey Fayd’Herbe signed an admission of guilt and was fined R40000,00. In determining penalty, the Board took into account the distance over and manner in which Jockey B Fayd’Herbe used his crop, the number of strikes (16) and the value and status of this race.

The only inconsistency versus the Australian ruling was the fact that Al Muthana (King's Plate Grade 1) was not demoted. It was a slightly different case though with a deadheat vs a short head decision. Also, it begs the question of whether a demotion is not far away as the Australians have applied. The steep fine is also in line with Australian authorities with other crop violations attracting huge fines.

Jockey Jarrod Fry was found to have used his whip seven times before the 100m mark and 16 times in total when he ran second on Tuvalu in the AU $3 million Champions Mile of 2022, drawing a hefty punishment.

He has been banned for nine meetings and fined AU $15,000 as Racing Victoria stewards took into account his guilty plea, record, second-place finish and his full number of strikes.

Top jock, Kerrin McEvoy was also hit with a massive AU$50,000 fine for excessive whip use during the Melbourne Cup of 2020. There are many cases in Australia.

The latest WSB Met advertising posters (headline image) have a horse's tongue sticking out, which to many will seem to be cruelty to the animal. Sticking the tongue over the bit does happen in a race but the last thing racing should do is promote an image of it for a major race.

As the industry needs to become more and more aware of animal rights for the horses. This awareness needs to raised with the people operating it as well. There is a shortage of skills in horseracing in South Africa already and with more non-horseracing people entering the sport, education on these issues is paramount. Sensitivity is paramount as well, this may not be obvious to a newbie in the sport, especially one who have come from other businesses backgrounds with little to no knowledge on the sports sensitivities.


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