04/06/2009 11:00PM

New Zealand mandates padded whips


New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) announced Tuesday that padded whips will become mandatory in that country on Aug. 1, the same day that the new softer instrument will go into use in Australia. New Zealand has been testing the new whips for the past year. Britain, where jockeys rejected padded whips at the start of the new century, now employs a modified, more flexible whip than that which had been used there for hundreds of years. In the United States, the Delaware Thoroughbred Commission has been experimenting with padded whips since 2006.

Australian jockeys Corey Brown, Kerrin McEvoy and Stephen Baster have warned that the new whips will compromise jockey safety, while legendary Australian trainer Bart Cummings, the 12-time winner of the Melbourne Cup, had derided the new whips as "absolutely ridiculous."

"The whip is essential for non-performers to achieve success," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "The good ones don't need it, the ordinary ones do. Unfortunately, there are more ordinary ones than good ones."

New Zealand chief stipendiary steward Reid Sanders said: "NZTR's primary charter is one of integrity and safety. This rule change is integral to the future welfare of horses while ensuring jockey safety."