Following the announcement by Harness Racing Australia (HRA) to ban the use of whips in training and racing from 1 September 2017, HRSA has consulted extensively with industry participants in South Australia. This included meetings with the Industry Advisory Council (IAC) and an industry forum which provided participants with the opportunity to provide direct feedback on the whip ban. This forum was also attended by the Harness Racing Australia (HRA) CEO, Andrew Kelly.
The consistent messages from industry participants included:
The industry also believe that the use of the whip is essential in the education, training and racing of horses as a 'tool of trade' and an 'aide' in guiding horses and also meeting the occupational health and safety requirements of participants.
These concerns have been formally communicated to the HRA leadership and although the HRSA Board acknowledge some of the reasoning behind the decision, it still has concerns about the ban on 1 September 2017. However the Board also believes that it needs to be pro-active in considering an alternative course of action. Therefore from 1 May 2017, HRSA will be conducting trials utilising whip pads and a restricted ‘wrist action’ only in regard to whip use.
In addition, HRA will be hosting a national drivers forum in Melbourne on Wednesday 26 April 2017 which will include briefings and also allowing drivers to have input into the proposed ban. The SA representatives at the forum will be David Smith and Wayne Hill.
John Lewis, HRSA CEO