Limits on the number of times jockeys can use the whip are considerably tighter already in Germany than here, but the authorities claim that they are widely ignored. Andreas Tiedtke, chief executive of the Direktorium, the German equivalent of the British Horseracing Authority, said that “whip abuse remains a major problem” in the sport.
As a result, the rules are to be tightened up again, and from 1 January 2013, the maximum number of strokes permitted will be reduced from seven to five. Any transgression will lead to a fine of half of any prize money, or €500, whichever is higher. Now where have we heard that before?
The stewards’ workload looks set to increase, as they will arbitrate as to whether the excessive strokes amount to abuse, in which case a suspension will follow. And where have I heard that before?
Tiedtke put the problems down to the approach of jockeys. He said, “We have to stamp out this win at all costs attitude from jockeys, as the welfare of the horse is of paramount importance. We don’t want a repeat of the situation in this year’s German Derby at Hamburg, after which the jockeys riding the first three home were all punished with suspensions. Germans love their animals, especially their horses, and we must put an end to anything that looks like cruelty. We're not against the use of the whip for straightening or corrective purposes, but abuse and overuse must be stopped.”
Freddie Tylicki is one jockey who is well qualified to compare racing in the two countries. He grew up in Germany, and although riding mainly in Britain this season, he’s also returned home on ten occasions to ride. He emphasised the professionalism of jockeys, and picked up on Tiedtke’s reference to welfare.
Tylicki said, “I’m surprised by the changes and the words that have been said seem very hard. I think German jockeys ride very clean and professionally and in my trips there this year I can remember only one jockey being done for the whip. I don’t know what the German equivalent of the RSPCA thinks but I do know that the German people aren’t into horseracing and the sport over there is on its knees.”