Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 22 July 2017

Murtagh latest to cut down UK visits over new whip rules

Johnny Murtagh riding Deacon Blues to victory at Ascot earlier this month, but the jockey intends reducing trips across the Irish Sea due to the new whip rules
Johnny Murtagh riding Deacon Blues to victory at Ascot earlier this month, but the jockey intends reducing trips across the Irish Sea due to the new whip rules
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

JOHNNY MURTAGH yesterday became the latest high-profile Irish jockey to announce that he will ride less frequently in Britain as a result of the controversial new whip rules.

On the day that Ruby Walsh lodged a formal appeal against the five-day ban that he incurred at Aintree last Saturday -- which rules him out of the Grade One JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal next weekend -- Murtagh said his boss John Oxx has advised against him competing at "ordinary meetings" in Britain.

"These are bad rules introduced for the wrong reasons," an irate Murtagh said.

"I cannot risk these bans when I go over to Britain. You won't see me in the lead up to major meetings like Royal Ascot and races like the Derby any more. I'll probably draw a line at Group races only. It's too risky. I can't be picking up five-day bans or worse for committing minor riding offences."

Murtagh's decision to condemn the new rules and sanctions follows Walsh's declaration that he will be increasingly selective about which UK meetings he attends in his role as Paul Nicholls' stable jockey.

With former champion jump jockeys Paul Carberry and Barry Geraghty having expressed similar concerns in recent days, pressure will continue to mount on the British Horseracing Authority if so many of the game's top riders feel compelled to boycott the day-to-day racing.

The threat of a jockeys' strike remains a distinct possibility, with the severity of the sanctions and the limit of eight strikes that are permitted in jumps races, two of the main points of protest.

Walsh, who skipped Chepstow yesterday and has also ruled himself out of Wetherby on Friday, went over the limit by one when getting Edgardo Sol home by a nose at Aintree and a repeat offence would trigger a 10-day exclusion.

Irish Independent

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