What The New Whip Rules Mean For Punters

In this exclusive extract from our recently released Winter Annual, our columnist, Scott Armstrong of The Sportsman gives his personal view on the new whip rules and the threats and opportunities they provide.

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Introducing the New Whip Rules

Under the heading: RESPONSIBLE REGULATION: A REVIEW OF THE USE OF THE WHIP IN HORSERACING, The British Horseracing Authority has concluded its wide-ranging and detailed Review into the use of the whip in Racing, which first commenced in November 2010.

The report, Responsible Regulation: a Review of the use of the whip in Horseracing – has been published in full and is available here. The Review will lead to a significant tightening of the rules and penalties relating to the use of the whip by jockeys, as well as a renewed focus on jockey training, to ensure that the best equine welfare standards are maintained throughout the sport.

The new rules will have wide-ranging ramifications for everyone in racing but, as is our primary focus here at SBC, we are most concerned on the implications for those who seek to profit from betting on the sport.

What The New Whip Rules Could Mean For Punters

The purpose of the following article is not to debate the new whip rules but to look at the possible effects they may have for bettors. The bottom line is a horse can now be hit a maximum of seven times in a Flat race and eight in total over jumps. It’s a whole new ball game for jockeys and will make life more complicated for punters. Let’s kick off by looking at those for whom the rulings will affect most.


National Hunt

Out of the two codes the National Hunt will suffer the bigger potential changes of results with the new rulings. It stands to reason that a whip is more important over a 3m chase than it is for a 1m flat race.

Horsemanship will be brought to the fore and the ability between top riders and their peers will become accentuated. The top riders for me are A.P.McCoy, Ruby Walsh and Barry Geraghty. I believe the head-waiter McCoy will win the jumps jockey championship with more to spare in future years than he has done in the past. Often portrayed as forceful with the whip this legendary rider is more than adept without the whip and can draw the best out of any horse.

Secondly McCoy will be champion jockey with ease under the whip restrictions owing to his strength in the saddle. What we as bettors must do is seek jockeys with strength and avoid those lacking in that department. Lady riders and younger riders who have not quite physically matured shall find these new rules particularly hard on them. Richard Johnson, Sam Twiston-Davies and Paul Carberry combine both horsemanship and a strong technique in the saddle and must also be kept onside in you’re betting plans. Look for other riders with those same qualities.


As for the Flat you must have Keiren Fallon on your side with his massive presence in the saddle. The new rulings will witness his percentage of wins to rides go up. Again the leading riders on the flat should gain a further advantage with Paul Hanagan and Ryan Moore also as strong as bulls in the plate. It’s interesting to note that only four of the thirty flat jockeys with the most wins rate above the national average for whip offences. This furthers the message that the best riders are going to open up even more of a gap on their contemporaries. Riders like Johnny Murtagh, Neil Callan, Jim Crowley and Tom Eaves may come to the fore as they are genuine strong horsemen who don’t resort to the flailing of the whip.


Six racecourses provide the highest figures of whip offences in the UK – Kelso, Hexham, Carlisle, Cheltenham, Aintree and Hamilton. These are the courses which shall provide the toughest tests for jockeys under the new guidelines. This begs the question are these courses being subject to stricter interpretation of the rules by Northern stewards? A factor must be the more inclement weather in the North of the country and therefore softer ground where jockeys are urging their mounts to get to the line in front. The longer runs in at Kelso and Hexham must play a part. The uphill finish at Hamilton brings more use of the whip and the amount at stake in the huge meetings at Cheltenham and Aintree are other factors. When betting at those tracks look for tough ground conditions and make sure your mount has the right pilot on board.


Lazy horses are going to lose out and no doubt some will exit their careers in racing as they will be tailed off, especially over the obstacles, on a regular basis. No longer can a few smacks of the whip encourage horses to get going in the early part of the race. Horses who hit flat spots in races are also going to be penalised. Think Harchibald or Inglis Drever. You must now have to include these factors when analysing the form. Many more horses will need to wear blinkers for encouragement so look for horses who have previously had to wear head-gear, cheek-pieces and other such aids for encouragement. The chances are those same horses without the aid of the whip are going to be even harder to master.


On the flat the biggest change may come with the pace of the races and a lot may well become 2f sprints with pace conserved and the whip applied at the death. Speed figures may become more pivotal.


Over the sticks winning distances may well become more pronounced with less use of the whip though conversely on the flat with races quite possibly becoming more akin to sprints, the winning margins may be a lot tighter.


Author Scott Armstrong is a regular columnist for us at the Smart Betting Club, where he uses his unique racing knowledge to help educate and inform our members on their betting. You can find more quality insight like this from Scott and other experts with a Smart Betting Club membership, which is available instantly by signing up here.