RICHARD HUGHES stunned the racing world and inflicted further embarrassment on the BHA last night as he handed in his riding licence after picking up another whip ban at Kempton.
Hughes was found guilty of breaking the new whip rules on the first day that they were implemented and received a five-day ban for that offence. A second ban last night saw his suspension double to 10 days and thus rule him out of the Breeders' Cup meeting, which proved the final straw for the Kildare native.
Ironically, Hughes had one of the best records of a leading jockey as regards getting suspended for whip offences and only picked up a ban for such an offence once in the past three years.
This will prove a massive blow for organisers of Champions Day at Ascot tomorrow as the biggest day in British racing for some time is now going to be overshadowed by the new whip rule which was brought in at a dreadful time by the authorities. The racing community will now wait and see who, if any, follow in Hughes' footsteps by going on strike ahead of the big meeting tomorrow.
Hughes explained: "I can't ride horses knowing that I'm not doing myself and the owners, who pay £100 a time, justice. I will only consider starting again if there is a review of the rules. I'd rather sweep roads than do half a job. I've notified Richard (Hannon)."
Hughes gave up his remaining rides at Kempton last night and was due to have four mounts at Haydock today and four more on the inaugural Champions Day at Ascot tomorrow.
Frustratingly for Hughes, he was brought to the attention of the stewards for two rides that saw him hit the horse under the allowed number of times of seven on the Flat, but over the amount of times a jockey is permitted to hit the horse in the final furlong, which is five. Hughes hit his mount six times on both occasions but all six came in the final furlong.
Hughes continued: "We're allowed to hit them seven times and both times I've been done, I've hit them six times, which is less than the amount you're allowed and I've got a 15-day ban because of it and I miss the Breeders' Cup.
"They've made the rules so you hit them more as you have to get two into them before the furlong pole as then you've only got five left. I was always told as a young lad the last jockey who goes for his whip normally wins."
Initially on the day the new rules were announced, they were greeted warmly by top jockeys. However, over the past week, a number have stood up against the severity of the punishment that jockeys face.
Hughes added: "Until the rules are resolved I won't be riding. I'd rather retire. They are taking the art of racing riding away from me, it's like telling Messi not to use his left foot anymore.
"I've been riding horses since 1988 and they've brought his rule in overnight and expect you to change."