An advert running on the side of a number of London buses in protest at the use of the whip in racing has been condemned by the British Horseracing Authority.
The anti-whip message is the latest campaign from Animal Aid, with the slogan saying: “You wouldn’t hit a dog, so why are jockeys allowed to whip race horses?”
The charity has previously run adverts supporting a ban on cruel cages, and last summer promoted their ‘Vegan Summer Pledge’, encouraging people to try veganism.
A BHA spokesman said on Tuesday: “Campaign groups use advertising gimmicks such as this regularly to try and get their viewpoint across, but it’s important to remember the considerable amount of positive mainstream coverage that racing receives, both via the media and broadcasters and from politicians.
“Everyone in the sport is aware of the exceptionally high standards of care that racehorses receive, and we need to work together to show that to the public and to challenge those with opposing viewpoints when they speak out.”
The issue of welfare in horse racing is oft-discussed, with the continued use of whips a topic of contention, with the BHA consistently coming under fire for their whip rules.
However, prominent trainer Mark Johnston believes that banning the use of the whip could be the beginning of the end for the sport.
“When we stop using the whip, the next thing to go will be jumps racing and the next thing after that will be racing altogether,” Johnston said at Goodwood last month.
“The big mistake was pandering to the anti-whip people and thinking, ‘if we put a number on it and start banning jockeys, that will satisfy these people’, but it was the beginning of a slippery slope to where we are now.”
Additional reporting by PA