No backlash over new whip regulations
The most comprehensive overhaul of regulations covering the use of the whip in horse racing, published yesterday in a 77-page document, has been endorsed by those closest to the issue. Leading jockeys believe the new measures contain clarity and practicality and they have backed the changes in the best interests of the sport.
The findings of a working party appointed by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) last year restrict jockeys to a certain number of hits with the whip during a race -- seven for Flat jockeys and eight for jump jockeys.
More significantly though, the penalty structure is far more severe than in the past and, in some circumstances, jockeys will forfeit their riding fees and their percentage of prize money. There was no recommendation to ban the whip outright, nor that winners should be disqualified if the jockey is in breach of the tougher code that comes into effect on October 10.
However, the measures drawn up are significant and place Britain at the forefront in world racing in addressing a welfare issue of long-standing that bubbled to the surface again during the far-reaching TV coverage of this year's Grand National at Aintree. Most in the sport were concerned at the damage to racing's image.
Other key changes are that the 'totting up' rule, much criticised by jockeys for being unfair, has been scrapped. In future repeat offenders will be more heavily penalised for each repeat offence. Those found guilty of whip offences four times in a 12-month period face a six-month ban from riding.
Another change is that jockeys handed a whip ban will be required to serve the suspension on the days specified, with no provision for the ban being held over on days on which there is a Group One race, which had previously been the case.
BHA's James Stier said they had looked at the suggestion a winner on which a jockey had broken the whip rules should be disqualified: "That is the easy fix and it's unfair on the owner, the trainer, the lad or lass looking after the horse,and the punter. It is fairer responsibility rests with the person holding the whip." (© Daily Telegraph, London)