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NHA Praised For No Crop Race

Historic experiment a success

There are to be further experimental no-whip races following last Saturday’s well-received trial at Turffontein and, while it may be quite some months down the road, there seems little doubt that whip use in South African racing is going to be restricted to a greater degree than it is at the moment.

Acting NHA chief executive Arnold Hyde told Michael Clower this week: “There is a likelihood of there being more of these races and there will be one in Central Province in the next couple of months. A date has to be decided and we also need to consider the restrictions relating to these cropless races, eg are we going to have an identical sort of race (to the one at Turffontein), are we going to allow jockeys to carry a crop but not use it, etc.”

Apparently the Charity Mile day no-whip race, the first of its kind in South Africa, was rather more than just an experiment to see whether racehorses would run, and keep straight, without the threat of a stick.

Hyde explained: “The race was a statement that needed to be made because our industry is under pressure – we need to attract a new audience – and there is a perception that this (whip use) is an area of racing that may be seen in a negative light by people outside the industry. Therefore we wanted to press home the need for the stakeholders to seriously consider the road that we have to adopt regarding the future of crop use.”

The race made an impact far beyond the relatively narrow confines of this country. Stipes in Australia, despite their recent days being dominated by events in Melbourne, took time out to contact Hyde and congratulate him.

Clyde Basel

Clyde Basel-well received

The Turffontein race, and the lessons to be learnt from it, will now be discussed at next month’s meeting of the NHA’s Harmonisation of the Racing Rules Committee.

Phumelela boss Clyde Basel also sees long term implications from Saturday and said: “It was very well received and proved a great idea. Who knows what could happen with it? There might be a series of races that could be considered. It is something we would like to take forward into the future although obviously it is all guided through the NHA.”

Training legend Mike de Kock, who trained the winner – first-timer Hawwaam, seemed much in favour when interviewed by Deez Dyanand and said: “They are better off without sticks. More of them get beaten with them than they would without them.

“A horse like this one never had a stick at home and there was no point in him having a stick here. When the horse shifted in Randall Simons (if carrying his whip in right hand) would have hit him. The horse would have then shifted out so Randall would have changed his stick and hit him again.”

Raymond Danielson – doesn’t use stick

By coincidence Hawwaam is owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum who for many years sponsored a series of apprentice races in Ireland in which the riders were not allowed to carry whips.

In tabonline’s pre-race strawpoll of the jockeys taking part only Raymond Danielson of the five questioned came out in favour of riding without a whip – “I’m all for it. I don’t really use the stick that much in races anyway. I find I’m a better rider with the hands.”

Nobody asked the horses but you don’t have to be an equine psychologist to conclude that they would no more vote in favour of the whip than turkeys would vote for Christmas. Seemingly, though, the pressure of public opinion is going to come to their assistance.


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5 comments on “NHA Praised For No Crop Race

  1. Niran Pillay says:

    Great initiative by the authorities ,however as a punter we want jockeys to get the best out of the horse even if it means using the crop to a certain extent to extricate the best out of the horse by that I by no means encourage miss use of the crop. Races that are used as an experiment should not cover exotics as I believe it is unfair to punters who wager hard earned cash on a daily basis, regrettably certain decisions preclude punters from the consultation process and it will be interesting to see what punters have to say with regards to ” crop less ” races. Certain horses need encouragement to make sure they stay focused, jockeys are professionals and they should know whether a horse responds to the crop or not, for example how can you race a 2 mile horse with just the hands and heels? Some horses are backward and require the use of the crop to a certain extent, we are all decent human beings and we love horses but at the same breath we are loyal punters who form an integral part in the lifeblood of racing yet the authorities find it relevant to please people outside the racing circle and show complete disregard for the punter. I personally think crops should be used as a guide and the use restricted, any misuse should be dealt with accordingly. With all due respect to Raymond Danielson, sir you only ride a handful of winners in a racing season and when you don’t get the best out of a horse you have few friends from the punting public I can assure you.how bout a magazine show on tellytrack? A debate? To use or not to use? #just saying.

  2. Tony Mincione says:

    Looking through the card for today, I saw a comment next to a horse that read “Dropped whip 300m” on its debut. I think anyone can see the point of the comment.

    There is lots of kit that we use on horses, invented who knows how many years, or centuries, ago. Saddles, bits, straps, blinkers, shoes, and crops. I also know I have used a stick (held or waved) to encourage a willful, difficult or scared horse to go through a gate or load. It works often enough to be useful, although I have never struck a horse, ever.

    Jockeys are professionals, and there are professionals whose job it is to police them. I’m not sure how banning the use of a tool, that has got a specific use, will solve anything. I’m not even sure what the banning is supposed to be the solution to. If an athlete uses the spikes on their shoes to gouge someone then solution isn’t to ban spikes. If someone thinks spikes should be banned because they are pointy and dangerous maybe they should stay away from athletics. And javelins.

  3. Ralph Fell. says:

    On ‘Winning Ways’ Goodman was scathing in his criticism of the innovation. Said quote unquote ‘ the form won’t stand up.’

  4. Brad says:

    The whip is not the problem , its the manner in which they are used .The authorities who are paid to control this must just do their job .

  5. Intergoal says:

    If this sport aims to be relevant in the 21st Century in South Africa, or anywhere else for that matter, the use of the whip as a persuader must be eradicated, otherwise the sport will continue in its current death spiral.

    Like it or not, the modern consumer of sporting entertainment is much more squeamish than in previous generations, they are also more demanding, top class sport is rarely ‘free to air’ so consumers are paying and they expect a different kind of ‘bang for their buck’.

    Compare modern soccer and rugby to even just thirty years ago and the difference is staggering. All these sports remain physical but gone are the days when full backs could clatter into their opponents and send them skywards. Almost any rugby match would descend into a ‘punch up’ at some stage during the eighty minutes.

    We read continually about racing not being able to attract a new audience, just look at our current product and ask yourself why? It doesn’t matter whether or not whips leave a mark or whether a horse feels the whip, it’s all about appearance.

    In these days of UHDTV and 3DTV the viewer is closer to the action than ever before. The drama, colour and spectacle of a competitive horse race is tailor made for an audience that doesn’t have the time or patience to engage for 90 minutes. As any of these consumers why they don’t engage with horse racing and the answer will usually be ‘because it’s cruel’. If we don’t recognise this and address it, the sport is doomed to become an irrelevance and will wither on the vine.

    Mr Goodman is quite right to point out that the form from the recent trial race might not work out, we will certainly get some different outcomes from races with or without the whip and if we stage some races with and some without, it will cause confusion and punters won’t be too thrilled.

    In 1999 the British Horseracing Authority launched their ‘hands and heels’ series for apprentices, see the press release here:


    Why not a series of ‘hands and heels’ races in South Africa, to get punters used to the idea, confined to work riders or apprentices perhaps?

    Racing has always been slow to adapt to change but in these times of dwindling interest in our product we must do something radical and positive to drag ourselves in the 21st Century.

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