Activists want to give whip the flick

david_hayesRACING Victoria has rejected fresh calls to ban whipping racehorses, despite a new study showing it has no affect on speed.

Racing Victoria chief executive Rob Hines said the University of Sydney study had not convinced him that whipping should be banned.

‘‘Although it does challenge the commonly held view that whipping a horse in the final stages of a race will improve that horse’s finishing position, we note that the sample studied was very small,’’ Mr Hines said. ‘‘We are concerned about the methodology and the size of the sample and for that reason this study is unlikely to change our view that the current restrictions on the use of the whip are appropriate.”

But the study’s authors, veterinarian Paul McGreevy and equine specialist David Evans, maintain whipping does not make horses go faster.

‘‘The reason for whip use has traditionally been the need to be seen to ride the horse out and the suggestion that you can steer a horse with the whip. Many horse riders, and certainly these findings, refute that,’’ Professor McGreevy said. ‘‘Top performance horses have been bred and prepared to give of their best. Add to that excellent horsemanship, and you’ve got a winning combination. That’s all you need.’’

The RSPCA, which has long condemned whipping, hopes the study will convince racing organisers across the country to ban the practice. RSPCA chief scientist Bidda Jones said whipping was cruel.

‘‘Jockeys may as well save their energy, keep their hands on the reins, and head straight for home. Their horses will be so much better off for it,’’ Dr Jones said.

Racing Victoria introduced new restrictions on whipping last year, including the use of padded whips and rules on how much whipping before the last 100 metres is allowed.