Three out of every four Australians are opposed to whips in racing, while nine out of ten punters will still watch and bet on racing if horses are not hit with the whip.
Those are the breakthrough findings of independent research commissioned by RSPCA Australia*, released today.
The landmark research, conducted online in late March, debunks any suggestion that ‚Äòriding out‚Äô horses to the satisfaction of punters means hitting them with a whip, said RSPCA Australia CEO Heather Neil.
‚ÄúThis research confirms what we already suspected ‚Äì that racing fans do not want to see horses hit with the whip,‚Äù said Ms Neil.
‚ÄúOf those who watch or bet on horse racing between once a week and once or twice a year, 87 per cent say they would continue to do so if rules did not allow horses to be whipped,‚Äù she said.
‚ÄúEven serious racegoing punters ‚Äì including those betting on the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick tomorrow ‚Äì will continue to support racing if we spare the horses from the whip,
‚ÄúThe research also found 74 per cent people don‚Äôt want to see whips used in racing, suggesting that recent rule changes to allow jockeys more discretion in whip use has done little to quell the community‚Äôs concerns about this practice,
‚ÄúAs Harness Racing Australia recognised, when they made the momentous decision to end whip use in racing from 1 September 2017, racing should celebrate good horsemanship, good breeding and good training - whips shouldn‚Äôt come into it,‚Äù said Ms Neil.
‚ÄúWhile we have no issues with jockeys carrying a safety device, it‚Äôs well and truly time for the thoroughbred racing industry to recognise that ending routine whip use is good for horses, isn‚Äôt a concern for punters, and will meet the wider community‚Äôs expectations,‚Äù she said.
* Independent, anonymous polling conducted of 1,533 Australian residents between Tuesday 21 March and Friday 24 March 2017.
The RSPCA is Australia‚Äôs leading animal welfare organisation and one of Australia‚Äôs most trusted charities. The RSPCA works to prevent cruelty to animals by actively promoting their care and protection.