Schreck Says Whip Rules "In Sport's Best Interests"

Tuesday, 15th September 2009

However under the headline "Racing Can't Distance Itself From Community Standards", former Australian Jockey Club & Hong Kong Jockey Club chief steward John Schreck has written an opinion for The Sydney Morning Herald which begins bluntly: "Moving away from indiscriminate whip use is in the sport's best interests." Schreck declares: "As far as animal welfare is concerned, racing is making progress on many fronts: no sharp spurs, no blistering, no pin firing & now a lighter set of hands will be needed. What's wrong with that? In my life around race tracks, I have seen the best & some of the worst exhibitions of race riding, as it relates to whips. The riding of Des Lake & Darby Munro simply would not be acceptable today, while some of our great riders have used the whip sparingly. Harry White & the late Scobie Breasley knew how to rate horses, not berate them. Racing is moving away from indiscriminate use of the whip to a riding style that is more appealing to the horse. And I promise you, in time, the product will be more acceptable to the general public. Despite what some industry participants may want, they must understand that racing cannot divorce itself from broader community standards. And concern about whip use on horses is not new. About 45 years ago Wally Hoysted, a member of one of Australia's most famous racing families, walked on to the Flemington track on race day with a double-barrelled shotgun. Hoysted wanted the use of whips stopped. To prove he was fair dinkum, he fired off one barrel. He was arrested, convicted, fined & jailed. He claimed it was wrong to allow horses to be whipped when they were doing their best, when if someone belted a dog, they would be in breach of the law & end up in court. His point is still one of racing's hottest issues. But now the Australian Racing Board has addressed the issue. It should be commended, not ridiculed. And remember, the latest rule was put forward by the chairmen of stewards. All this talk of strike is sad. Likewise, the threats being thrown about by some owners & officials do not help. The board has said the rules will be reviewed in February. Surely, that commitment is reasonable. By then, the new rules will have been tested throughout the spring in Sydney & Melbourne, the summer in Perth & the Gold Coast." Schreck concludes: "Everyone should take a cold shower & settle down. It's way past time that the racing community had a sensible & rational debate about whips. I said in May that I did not agree with the new rules. But they must be given a good test."

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