I wonder what Nick Rust is thinking this morning as he sits in his High Holborn office and watches London buses trickle past with an advert on the side decrying the use of the whip in horse racing. The advert is the work of Animal Aid, an animal rights organisation opposed to racing, and it asks: “You wouldn’t hit a dog, so why are jockeys allowed to whip racehorses?”
We know Rust is worried about public perception on this issue, because of an appearance he made on Racing TV in March, when he tried to spell out just how much the world beyond horse racing is changing. “There are offices in London now which don’t have milk in the fridges,” he said. “They don’t have it because milk is bad. Milk leads to cows being forced to be milked.”
I can advise that milk is still present in fridges at The Guardian, at any rate, and I don’t think Rust has identified an especially significant detail of social change here. But it was interesting to hear how concerned he was and, at another point in the same show, he mentioned racing in the same breath as “traditional circuses” while trying to outline the challenges the sport faces and the risks of being complacent about same.
That being the case, where is the BHA’s action plan to deal with such criticism? There is a useful page about the whip on its website but my own view is that the ruling body needs to be much more proactive in educating the wider public about the whip and explaining why it is not the baleful instrument of harm suggested in these adverts. There is a gap in the public’s knowledge on the subject and my fear is that Animal Aid’s advert may serve to entrench a basic dislike of the whip in many minds around the nation’s capital this month.
Back in December, Rust promised “a new structure of penalties and deterrents for overuse of the whip” would be announced the next month, though it quickly became clear that he had got ahead of himself. The BHA’s latest position on the whip, given in a statement in June, is this:
“We are continually monitoring whip usage, in particular at major festivals or in the biggest races, to ensure that the rules and penalties are still providing a suitable deterrent. This monitoring is feeding in to an ongoing and significant piece of work to assess data compiled since the last whip review in 2011/12.”
Wednesday’s best bets
The market has gone a bit cool on the nap this morning and you can get 7-2 about Swiss Chill (2.10) in the opener at Bath. A lightly raced four-year-old, he took a big step forward to win a Leicester novice on his reappearance, which was only the third run of his life and his first in more than a year. It was also his first since being gelded.
He’s been given what looks a very fair mark for this handicap debut, bearing in mind that his two siblings to race in this country quickly achieved marks about two stones higher. He comes from the Clive Cox yard that made a slow start to the season but is trucking along nicely now, and the in-form Hollie Doyle rides.
Later at Bath, 5-4 is perfectly fair about Mubariz (3.40), whose Haydock third looks strong form. He’s been gelded since and now gets the chance to take on older rivals for the first time, which could be a good opportunity for an improving three-year-old.
Brighton, which starts its three-day August festival today, is always a tricky place to find a winner but there is much to like about Lady Morpheus (5.00), an 11-4 shot in a sprint handicap. A half-sister to a Lennox Stakes winner, this unexposed filly got her first win at Epsom last month, when she went from last to first and quickly took advantage of a gap that had been slow to appear. She comes from the local Gary Moore yard that gets plenty of winners at this track.
I’m surprised to be getting 9-1 about Airwaves (8.30) at the end of Kempton’s card tonight. Martyn Meade’s filly was unbeaten in two on the all-weather last year, including at this track. She fared poorly in two turf runs in the spring but the yard was struggling at the time and the boat has since been righted. It could be worth taking a chance on this well-related sort.