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The history of the most horse - friendly whip ever designed
James Mahon, designer of the Aircush Whip

Public outrage over Cheltenham Festival jockeys beating their horses rocked racing. But for years Jim Mahon, founder chairman and president of the Point-to-Point Ownders Association, had been urging stewards to crack down on  insensitive riders.

Researchers at the Newmarket laboratories of the Animal health Trust carried out exhaustive clinical trials at the Newmarket laboratories on three Mahon prototypes and 21 others - and in the words of the Jockey Club the Mahon whip "came top of the league table as being the least likely to cause injury"

After watching an unplaced point-to-point horse bleed from weal marks, Mahon realised that the whip was as culpable as the rider; concluding that the only certain way to prevent such cruelty was a more humane whip. He was helped and advised by his brother Frank - one of Britain's most respected vets - who could examine a horse the day after a race and name the jockey, by the whip-marks it bore. 

 The Jockey Club's director of regulation Malcolm Wallace and Mildmay-White visited Mahon's Warwickshire base where de designed and tested his whips and wrote to a third party: "It is undoubtfully a revolutionary design and has come out so well in the Jockey Club trials (first, second and third).......whatever the conditions, wet or dry, whatever the angle of 'strike' the damage from a Mahon whip is less than those from other makes" 

Early experiments with an air-cushioned model coincided with Jockey Club alarm at public reaction to televised images of jockeys beating horses, and the introduction of a whip rule 

Lack of progress and the Jockey clubs apparent disinterest in the free offer of the whips patent rights caused Mahon to reflect on the increasing cost of development and concluded that the only way forward was to form a company and manufacture it with Slough Rubber Co., assisted by MPD management Ltd, under the name AIRCUSH.

Mahon's prototype was demonstrated to a small audience at Lambourn and brought to the attention of the famed race-riding authority and Jock Club member John hislop. 

The whip made its debut in the show-jumping ring with international champion Nick Skelton and on the racecourse on winners owned by Sir Peter O'Sullevan. Later in the year a new shape was successfully tested against other designs used by jockeys. Unlike the Aircush they, too, smashed glass when tested - and Mahon is convinced that even in the absence of weal marks they could cause subcutaneous bruising and possibly bleeding. The year ended with the RSPCA, frustrated by lack of significant progress over whip abuse, inviting influential personalities from the racing world and the Jockey Club to a meeting at which the adoption of the Mahon whip was urged. 

A startled Disciplinary Committee and its chariman Col. Sir Piers Bengough ducked for cover when Mahon demonstrated that whips in daily use on the racecourse shattered panes of glass in bench tests, whereas his didn't. The RSPCA requested a demonstration at its headquarters,

After a decade and more of headlines and controversy over whip abuse, involving almost 2,000 offences and some of the biggest names in racing, AIRCUSH launch the whip for all seasons, all ages and all mounted sports. The whip for the real horse-lover. 

A Jockey Club working group under new disciplinary Chairman Anthony Mildmay-White was formed to examine the specification and design of whips and institute tests.

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