The first session of Whip Free trials were successfully held at Carrick and Hobart in Tasmania on the 6th and 8th of May. HRA wishes to thank the trial participants and Tasracing for their collaboration, time, and feedback in conducting the trial sessions.
As communicated in the Driver Representative Meeting and in the follow up Chairman's Update, the trials were conducted under the draft rule with the use of the safety device 'Prototype 1', a device of approximately 160cm in total length including a long padded end.
This prototype was trialled for the first time at Carrick and feedback from drivers via conversation and the feedback form, in addition to steward comments and vision analysis, it was concluded that the Prototype 1 was unwieldy, too long and heavy. It was caught in the wind and drivers had trouble 'turning the whip around in a timely manner'.
In response to the feedback, a lighter and shorter device was used with a flap on the end, was used. The drivers preferred the use of the lighter device as it provided greater control, safety and finesse.
In being allowed to use the device for safety purposes, the drivers did not report any safety issues that they were unable to mitigate with the use of the safety device. Drivers were also interviewed in respect to the ability of their horse to ‘find the line’, with differing views were received predicated on age and experience.
HRA will communicate the trial feedback and outcomes with the Driver Representative Group and will continue to work with the industry to develop a more suitable safety device, along with tinkering with the draft rule to progress to Whip Free Racing.