Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson says research has revealed a majority of the sport’s customers would be happy to see whip use phased out.
Racing Victoria is locked in a battle with Racing NSW over its contentious plan to scale down use of the whip on horses in the short term.
Thompson said the reasons behind RV’s plan need to be better publicised to increase understanding of the ruling body’s stance.
“The difference of opinion on our whip reform is well articulated but I think what isn’t well articulated is, particularly among our participant group, is why,” Thompson said.
“The why is relatively straightforward.
“Our view, and the evidence we have, suggests the whip is a problem. Not just in the broader community but among those that engage with racing.”
Thompson said RV’s research shows punters and other racegoers would have no problem with whip-free racings.
He said customer opinion on whip use was a major reason for RV’s decision to make changes to whip rules.
Current rules allow jockeys to strike horses five times before the 100m of race with jockeys to use their discretion with the whip in the last 100m.
“I don’t mean jockeys and I don’t mean a trainer. I mean those that pay their bills, an owner or racegoers or punters,” Thompson said.
“That group of people, the customer, cares about the whip and do not support the whip.
“Over half of our customers, not the community, want to see a reduction in the whip. Actually half our customers would be quite happy to see it go.”
Thompson said maintaining Victorian Government support for racing was also a key reason for Racing Victoria’s move.
He said the sport was lucky to have the support of the Andrews Labor Government and the Liberal Opposition but that support could not be taken for granted if the mood of the voters turned.
“Governments will respond, not to people in the industry, but to the community. That’s who votes them in and that’s who gives them a job,” Thompson said.
“If we are unable to join that connection between what the community thinks, including our customers, that will eventually filter into government policies.
“This is part of our broader long-term strategy to look at the risks to racing and the risks to the futures of those within it.
“If you think about that, integrity, equine welfare, participant welfare, what do you need? You need money, and you need government support.
“When you start joining those dots, you start asking what guarantees government support, and what is it that deals with other non-negotiables.”
Thompson said he was unsure when Racing Victoria would get its chance to present its case for changes to the whip rules at a Racing Australia meeting.