Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Murtagh to cutback on UK appearances because of new whip rules

JOHNNY Murtagh is the latest jockey based in Ireland to announce that he will dramatically reduce his riding appearances in Britain because of the controversial new whip rules.

Multiple champion Irish National Hunt jockey Ruby Walsh was handed a five-day suspension for hitting his mount once more than the permitted eight when scoring on Edgardo Sol at Aintree on Saturday, and revealed afterwards that he would now only travel to ride in Britain for the big races.

Murtagh, a three-time winner of the Derby at Epsom, has decided to follow suit as he feels it is not worth picking up a suspension that would lead to him missing out on rides for his boss, John Oxx, in his homeland.

"These are bad rules introduced for the wrong reasons," Murtagh said in a statement released by the Professional Jockeys Association.

"I cannot risk these lengths of bans when I come 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 the line at Group races only.

"I spoke to my boss John Oxx and he told me not to be going across to Britain for ordinary races. It's just too risky. I can't be picking up five-day bans or worse for committing the most minor of riding offences."

Murtagh was in action at Newbury on Saturday, where he guided the William Haggas-trained Beaten Up to a most impressive victory in the Worthington's Champion Shield.

But the jockey has revealed he only made the journey to Berkshire after Haggas persuaded him to take the ride.

"If William Haggas hadn't called me and persuaded me, I wouldn't have been there," Murtagh continued.

"I was in France on Sunday and I have been talking with my friends and colleagues in America and Australia. None of them can believe what is happening.

"Why have the authorities lost faith in the stewards? They can judge whether someone is using the stick too much. They can police it. It's just common sense.

"The owners and the trainers in Britain are going to start to be affected by this. They need to make their voices heard so that there can be a sensible re-think over these new rules."

PJA chief executive Kevin Darley said: "I have huge sympathy for Johnny, Ruby and all the Irish boys.

"They risk picking up long bans for minor offences in Britain that will stop them riding at home. It's understandable that they are going to restrict themselves to only the top races in this country."

Press Association

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