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By Graham Potter | Tuesday, December 15, 2020

What is really driving Racing Victoria’s (RV) agenda to fast forward so called ‘whip reform’ and explore options on their own … a move which currently flies directly in the face of the rest of the country who are playing along with the bigger picture and waiting for the pending outcome of Racing Australia’s major review of the rules regarding whip use in racing?

It is a legitimate question!

Racing bodies are supposed to look after racing interests first and, while unity right across the country might be a tough task to master, a combative approach by one racing body against another, as is arguably being shown by RV, merely plays into the hands of those trying to bring the industry down.

And make no mistake … part of the group that RV is seemingly trying to placate in ramping up their opposition to the whip rule is indeed intent on bringing racing down.

As things stand at the moment, RV is adamant that, ‘a new framework is required to transition the industry to an ultimate prohibition on use of the whip for purposes other than to protect the safety of horses and jockeys," and that RV, “could act on the whip rules before there is a national determination on the matter by Racing Australia,’ claiming there were any number of reforms being explored. RV has not ruled out having some ‘whip free’ races in 2021.

Their bottom line is, ‘If national consensus on an amendment to the Australian Rules of Racing cannot be reached, RV will explore alternative approaches to achieve meaningful progress on whip reform.’

RV has been steadfast in this standpoint for much of the year and their confrontational stance, in, some would say, trying to put pressure on Racing Australia, arguably suggests one of three things.

They have run out of patience with Racing Australia’s drawn-out decision-making process (in fairness, RV did table their original paper to Racing Australia in February 2020), or they don’t believe they are going to get the result from Racing Australia they are looking for (there has been no indication at this time from Racing Australia as to which way they are heading) … or, RV themselves are feeling the pressure from the anti-whip lobbyists to the degree where they feel their hand has been forced.

Maybe, to some degree at least, it is all of the above.

If the last point is in play at all though, that would be particularly unfortunate.

The problem here is that you have got to be careful who you are trying to pacify. It would probably be fair to say that by far the majority of the anti-whip lobbyists are anti-racing lobbyists whose end goal is pretty well known.

While, of course, community standards and expectations, which RV references often, are very important, the fact that they are often represented by people with limited to no knowledge of the racing industry means these outside views should not always be fully accepted without a filter.

In fact, it is largely a fool’s errand to try and pamper to the perception of those who don’t know enough about the subject to make a viable contribution to an important conversation.

Some might feel that RV has fallen into this trap and some might refute that argument.

Whichever way you look at it, the bottom line is that, at any given time, Racing Authorities, first and foremost, have to make decisions from the standpoint of what is best for racing … from a racing perspective.

There is no doubt that the semi-standoff between Racing Victoria and Racing Australia needs to be resolved quickly … and yes, it is not just Racing Victoria in the spotlight, but Racing Australia who also have to come to the party sooner rather than later.

There is no pressure on their decision, but a rapid timeframe to a resolution has now become important.

Maybe a formal disagreement between RV and Racing Australia is on the way, which will be better than the unproductive sparring we have had to endure up until now, but it is time to get to get the situation settled one way or the other so that everybody can know where they stand and that they can then they can move on with whatever they have got to work with into what will hopefully be a happier 2021!

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