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Trainer Mark Johnston believes the horse welfare issue regarding whip use should be left to racing experts.

In addition to being a trainer, Johnston is a qualified vet and a British Horseracing Authority director.

He is convinced the emphasis should be on welfare itself, and not on public perception.

“I very strongly feel that the whip needs to be retained for the proper riding of horses,” Johnston told At The Races.

“It is an essential tool for the job, particularly in racing, to initiate the right response and make these horses run.

“I also very strongly feel that it is a welfare issue, but not a welfare problem.

“Welfare should be put a long way ahead of public perception.

“The BHA review group had to look at everybody’s views which they did in great detail. They came to a decision and did so in good faith.

“My view is perception has been put ahead of welfare a long time ago. I don’t think these latest changes to the rules have gone any further down that route.

“The problem was once we set down that route it is a case of driving a wedge forward because you are pandering to a minority of people who can’t see any purpose for the whip whatsoever.

“As long as you do that you are accepting they have some sort of case, that they maybe right, and, frankly, I think they are wrong.

“I have never been concerned about the use of the whip on my horses. I can think of a couple of instances where I felt the whip was used wrongly and unnecessarily and those were dealt with internally.

“My main argument is that it’s time we drew a line in the sand and said we are the experts on horse welfare and we will stand by our decision on that.”

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