A talking point, brought up over the past week continues. How can racing regulate the whip rule? Working out whether a horse has been hit the correct number of times during a race is incredibly difficult.
But some have suggested that VAR in horse racing could be implemented as we see in football. It could be added to the steward’s room to take a look back at the final couple of furlongs. That would allow officials to if any offense was made by the winning jockey.
Of course, there is big resistance to this by those inside racing. Simply put, how would punters feel and react if they went from having a winning bet to a losing one on a video review because the jockey made an error. Would race-goers be turned off by this ruling?
There are many casual racing fans who enjoy watching the televised action every weekend. Should something major happen at one of those meetings then it would more than likely leave a lot of punters scratching their heads. Plus it would leave those who have missed out on a winner feeling pretty annoyed.
At the moment, if a jockey breaks the rules and uses their whip too many times, they are penalised. That is often a fine and a ban which prevents them from riding for a fixed number of days. This ban is there to try and deter jockeys from falling foul of the whip rules as it prevents them from earning any money on the days they are off.
However, is that enough? Or should we be looking into penalties on the day? Would jockeys toe the line if faced with an immediate change in the result?
I doubt we will see anything implemented soon regarding this. It is too much of a grey area for the BHA to solve so quickly. If a horse wins by a few lengths, does that horse still get disqualified even though it would have won anyway? Plus you have to consider the trainer and owner and other connections. They would lose out on a potential win because a jockey has been careless.
Horse racing has to do something to improve its image, particularly in the case of misusing the whip. The industry wants to clean up and one drastic way to do so would be to implement VAR in horse racing.
Having said that, I wouldn’t like to be in the shoes of the person changing a decision for a huge race at one of the big racing festivals. The public outcry and backlash that would await them doesn’t bear thinking about.