‘The world has changed’: Lloyd calls for whip ban
Australian racing's most decorated owner has called for the immediate banning of whips.
Lloyd Williams, who has raced a record-breaking six Melbourne Cup winners, wants whips outlawed as outrage over animal cruelty accusations haunt the industry.
Focus on animal welfare in racing has heightened since last week's ABC expose on the barbaric treatment of former racehorses in gruesome abattoirs.
"Australia needs to be at forefront and withdraw the whip," Williams said. "If we are not proactive, the industry will be lucky to survive.
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"If the industry doesn't do something, it will be done for them.
"The world has changed. I have seen some research. The whip has to go."
Williams urged racing officials to be proactive.
But he laments administrators who live in "the old world."
Williams is concerned at how racing - his lifelong passion - is perceived beyond its bubble and is particularly alarmed at the damage caused to its image by whip use.
He believes the only solution is the complete removal of an instrument many in the industry describe as a "safety tool".
Racing jurisdictions abroad have taken steps to take the whip out of the sport.
Whips are banned in harness racing in parts of Europe and the California Horse Racing Board this year introduced a proposal described as the "most stringent racehorse whipping ban in the nation."
Under the proposed new rule, whipping of horses will no longer be allowed at any state-sanctioned track for any circumstances other than "when necessary to control the horse for the safety of the horse or rider."
Trainer Ciaron Maher does not believe there is need for change.
"I just think the stewards are doing the right thing," he said. "The whips are padded, they're tested. I think all horses are different, some need it and some don't.
"I think the stewards are doing a great job policing that, there's fines, there's suspensions if it's overused.
"It doesn't always have to be used, it's a discretionary thing. I just think everyone is getting a bit carried away."
Champion jockey Craig Williams said: "We're only participants and we're governed by the rules that we've been given and we're mindful about the welfare of the horse.
"The whip has been introduced as being a padded, proven it doesn't hurt or inflict pain on a horse, and in regards to the rules that they bring out we'll just have to adapt to them."
Damien Oliver says it's too early to remove the whip.
"I think it's still premature to be thinking about that," he said. "They've got a good handle on it at the moment if you do transgress there's penalties there certainly to stop you from going overboard with it.
"Now using the padded whip we've gone a long way from where we were in recent times.
"I still think it's quite an important tool as far as getting the best out of the horse and also for the punters to perceive every horse is there to win as well, so you got to find that balance as well."
A Racing Victoria spokesman said the use of padded whips is continually monitored.
"While our veterinary team are not seeing any evidence of a welfare problem on raceday, we understand the need to consider the perception of the padded whip and this is something that the industry nationally must continue to debate," RV said.
"As events of recent days have shown, it is important that all within the Australian racing industry recognise that community expectations continue to evolve. We understand that and will ensure that they remain a key consideration."