American Racing is stuck in the Dark Ages

By Evie

On a day highlighted by one of the most competitive races in the American racing calendar, one moment stood out above all. That moment- the disgraceful use of the whip from Christophe Soumillon aboard Thunder Snow.

As the eventual winner, Accelerate, drew alongside his mount, Soumillon took the decision to hit the Godolphin owned Thunder Snow a massive 20 times along the final straight, the hits coming within quick succession of each other, not leaving Thunder Snow the chance to respond to these hits.

And it was not the only time this had happened that night. Earlier on in the day in the Breeder’s Cup Mile, Catapult received the same treatment from his jockey, Drayden van Dyke. Granted, this time his horse was actually in a competitive position, but this should not excuse whipping a horse over 20 times in a single furlong.

Take example from Frankie Dettori’s ride on Enable. He gave her the customary 7 hits, as is regulatory in European racing, and after that point continued on with a hands and heels ride, even when Magical was still in an actively competitive position against his mount.

Clearly, the rules in America are not created to benefit the horse. As written on the Horse Racing Officials website-

“Prohibited uses of the riding crop include: …hitting a horse excessively or brutally… persistently even though the horse is showing no response under the riding crop…”

However, watching the Breeder’s Cup Classic alone it is clear that these rules are not being stuck to, nor are the current rules sufficient enough to protect the horses. In the UK, flat rules dictate that horses can only be whipped overarm 6/7 times, with shoulder slaps not counting towards that total.

Its clear that these rules need reviewing to ensure the utmost safety of the horses, and to ensure the integrity of the sport.

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