While racegoers and punters are anticipating the race that stops the nation, the RSPCA has launched its ‚ÄòLove Parties, Hate Whips‚Äô campaign in response to growing concerns in the Australian community about racehorse welfare and the cruel and unnecessary use of whips.
Australians can get behind the campaign to end whips in racing, by adding their voice via the RSPCA website and by downloading and wearing a printable badge to show they care about the welfare of race horses.
‚ÄúWhat we‚Äôre finding more and more each year, is that people love the spectacle of Spring Racing but are increasingly uncomfortable with the risks to horses, and of course, the continued use of whips in racing is the most visible area of concern,‚Äù said RSPCA Australia CEO Ms Heather Neil.
‚ÄúMost of us love to dress up and have fun, but this shouldn‚Äôt come at the expense of the horses‚Äô welfare on the track. No one wants to cheer for an animal being hit with a whip,
‚ÄúOpinion polls show overwhelmingly that people ‚Äì including regular punters ‚Äì don‚Äôt want to see horses being hit with whips, ‚Äú she said.
Independent polling commissioned by the RSPCA also found 3 out of 4 of Australians do not support the use of whips in racing, and 9 out of 10 people who watch or bet on racing regularly will continue to do so if horses are not hit with whips.
‚ÄúWhile jockeys may need to carry a whip for emergency and safety reasons, they should not be used routinely.
‚ÄúHorses will still win races - and people can still have parties - without whips,‚Äù said Ms Neil.
Rules around whipping allow jockeys to strike each horse up to 18 times throughout the race.
However, studies have shown that horses that are whipped do not have an increased chance of winning, and that 98% of horses are whipped without it influencing the outcome of the race.
More information on the welfare issues in horse racing can be found on the RSPCA‚Äôs Knowledgebase.