Sensation as Hughes quits in whip rule protest
Richard Hughes, one of Flat racing's most distinguished jockeys, stunned the racing world last night by sensationally announcing that he was handing in his licence with immediate effect in protest at the controversial new whip rules in Britain.
As well as hefty suspensions, the new sanctions, which were introduced on Monday, strip jockeys of their riding fees and their share of any prize money won.
The Kildare native was one of two jockeys to incur a five-day ban on the first day of their implementation, and yesterday he received an additional 10 days after just failing to get More Than Words up by a neck in the 7.20 at Kempton.
"I can't ride a horse knowing that I'm not doing myself and the owners who pay £100 a time justice," Hughes said last night. "I will only consider starting again if there is a review of the rules. I'd rather sweep roads than do half a job. They are taking the art of race-riding away from me -- it's like telling Messi not to use his left foot anymore."
The BHA had earlier relented to widespread criticism of the hefty sanctions by announcing that a review would now take place, but Hughes' stand is further bad press ahead of the inaugural Champions Day initiative at Ascot tomorrow. After last night's finding, he immediately gave up his two remaining mounts on the card -- a decision for which he was later fined £290.
While Hughes struck More Than Words once less than the permitted limit of seven times, he was deemed to have registered all six inside the final furlong, when a maximum of five are allowed. Crucially, the latest ban rules 38-year-old out of next month's Breeders' Cup meeting.
With jockeys seemingly of the widespread belief that the new punishments far outweigh the crimes that they are apportioned to, there is a fear that further strikes may be looming if the BHA does not respond adequately.