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McGauran Discusses New Whip Rules
Racing Australia chief executive Peter McGauran says the new whip rules provide clarity and have the support of all the racing jurisdictions in Australia, reports Racing.com. Racing Australia yesterday announced amendments to the whip rules that will come into force from 1 December, 2015, with the primary change being that jockeys will be limited to five forehand or backhand whip strikes prior to the final 100 metres of a race. Reforms introduced in 2009 placed restrictions on the number of times a jockey could use the forehand method of striking, however it had unintended consequences with riders developing a greater reliance on the backhand application of the whip. The current rule change is designed to remove any doubt about the rules by ensuring that forehand and backhand strikes are treated equally. "It's not the force that's the problem with the backhand grip; it is instead the unlimited use of it," McGauran told RSN radio yesterday. "The problem is, how do stewards assess excessive use of the whip? It's not uncommon for the back-hand to be applied 20, 30 times during the course of the home straight, and if the horse is improving and wins, or gets into a place, it's very hard for a steward to then impose an excessive use of the whip." He added: "We came to the conclusion it's an almost impossible task for stewards to judge whether or not it's excessive." McGauran said the racing industry had a duty to maintain the integrity of the sport and protect its image among the broader population. "Horses and riders need to be competitive but above all else there are integrity issues," he said. "We have to make it straight forward, easily understood, easily enforceable and meets community expectations." He added: "We want to make it crystal clear that there are five strides - you can choose whether it's backhand or forehand - but anything above that will be severely penalised in future."