It's illegal to beat an animal under current cruelty laws... unless you are a jockey.
Extensive research has revealed no evidence that whips improve performance times in horse racing or that they make racing safer or fairer for jockeys. Whip rules are difficult to mandate and fines are meaningless compared to the prize money awarded to jockeys.
In 2020, Racing Victoria admitted that the current national whip rules are no longer appropriate, and that whip reform is vital for the future of the sport.
Whips have been banned in Norway and whip-free races are being trialled elsewhere across the world.