The horseracing industry has got on its high horse – quite literally – over a new outdoor ad campaign from animal rights group Animal Aid which demands an end to the practice of whipping, under the strapline: “You wouldn’t hit a dog, so why are jockeys allowed to whip race horses?”
The bus ads, which also feature two silhouetted images of a cowering dog being hit and a racehorse with a jockey on board holding a whip, have been branded a “gimmick” by the British Horseracing Association.
According to Transport for London’s advertising policy, a campaign can be refused if “it contains images or messages which relate to matters of public controversy or sensitivity”. However, much to the annoyance of the racing community, TfL saw nothing wrong with the activity.
The BHA has also tried to justify the so-called “sport of kings” by pushing the positive mainstream support for racing and the high levels of care racehorses receive.
A BHA spokesman told Racing Post: “Campaign groups use advertising gimmicks such as this regularly to try and get their viewpoint across, but it’s important to remember the considerable amount of positive mainstream coverage that racing receives, both via media and broadcasters and from Westminster.
“Everyone in the sport is aware of the exceptionally high standards of care that racehorses receive, and we need to work together to show that to the public and to challenge those with opposing viewpoints when they speak out.”
Last year Animal Aid successfully forced a debate in Parliament about the formation of a new, independent equine welfare body after an online petition gained 100,000 e-signatures.
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