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SHOULD SERIAL WHIP USE OFFENDERS FACE THE ULTIMATE PENALTY?

By Graham Potter | Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Punters to a large degree were left in awe of Nash Rawiller on Saturday after his audacious move to bring the $41 chance Think It Over right across to the outside rail on straightening paid big dividends in more ways than one.

The plan was premeditated and seemingly brilliantly executed when Think It Over stormed home at a great rate of knots to snare Zaaki, who was racing in the centre of the track, in the final strides to claim the $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes in scintillating fashion.

It was epic theatre.

But … the fact that Rawiller had breached the whip rule (while Jamie Kah on Zaaki had not) brought another argument into play … an argument which Rawiller lost badly in the steward’s room afterwards where he was fined $40 000 and suspended for two weeks.

But Think It Over kept the race win.

Rehashing old points of a debate that has continued ad nauseam about this type of whip rule breach and a race outcome serves little purpose.

Suffice to say, we all know by now that the effect of the whip on individual horses … positive or negative … cannot be quantified as its use gets more out of some horses while others resent the whip … and, if the horse does respond positively, how much advantaged is gained?

That has been categorised as a question impossible to answer by stewards, who therefore have basically made it quite clear (or that is the perception at least) that they will not uphold a protest based on the excessive use of the whip. (A whip rule protest was upheld once … in a dead heat … in March 2016, but never again).

Most participants would rather have current whip rule taken out of the rule book as it cannot be enforced properly in terms of the effect a transgression of the rule can have on a race result.

But, it is in the rule-book and it looks like that is where it will stay … so is there a way around sorting out a race result where one rider has blatantly breached the rule and beaten another horse whose rider has stayed within the rules.

How about this!

Take the race off serial offenders!

Any rider can make a mistake. Any rider can miscount their whip use in a pressurised finish … but riders who continually break the rule to their advantage, particularly in rich feature race events, should be shown no mercy if they get up in a close finish.

If their record with regard to the whip rule is bad enough … an agreed upon level of transgression in this regard would have to formally settled upon by racing’s law makers and made known to every rider so they know what they are going into … they should pay the consequences for their regular failure to toe the line in a way they will feel the most. How else will they learn to conform?

Clearly the threat of fines and suspensions do little to supress certain jockey’s willingness to take one for the team in order to ensure a winning result. In fact, it can be argued that some riders seem to be simply thumbing their noses at the rule.

To be clear, it is better the whip rule in its current form not be there at all … but, while it is, an element of fairness surely has to prevail to protect the connections of a horse that has been beaten as well as all of those punters who have bet on the second placed horse expecting a fair playing field under the rules.

A drastic move … maybe ... and, of course, there will always be unfortunate collateral damage amongst the connections of any of the horses involved, whichever way a ruling is made.

But, is it not either a case of doing something about it to change the current penalty approach on whip rules transgressions or just allowing life in the finish to continue with a loophole, so big that you can drive a truck through it, that allows those who break the rule to win the race?

There will be many different opinions on this one.

There will be one point of consensus though … and that is what happens at the moment is far from satisfactory.

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