Cross-posted from the Global Post
LONDON, United Kingdom — In Britain, horse racing is wildly popular. Millions of fans — including Her Majesty — pack the nation’s racecourses every year to watch equine athletes and their riders compete.
But this season, the Sport of Kings is embroiled in a heated debate over the jockey’s most iconic tool: the whip.
In October, the sport’s governing body unveiled new regulations halving the number of times a jockey can strike a horse during a race, with strict penalties including suspensions and loss of prize money.
Since then, the season has been a blur of suspensions, angry protests and rule revisions. The head of the jockeys’ union has called it “the most challenging time for jockeys for many decades.”
The whip became a public issue in Britain this April following the Aintree Grand National, the sport’s premiere event. Many spectators were horrified by winning jockey Jason Maguire’s flailing of Ballabriggs, his clearly-exhausted mount, in the final stretches of a race in which two horses sustained fatal injuries. Read more >>