Wednesday 25 April 2018

Riders forced to wait on whip changes decision

JOCKEYS must wait until the end of the week to find out whether the British Horseracing Authority will make any adjustments to the new whip rules.

Professional Jockeys Association chief executive Kevin Darley was joined by top riders Richard Hughes, Frankie Dettori, Ryan Moore and Tony McCoy in a meeting with the BHA yesterday.

There has been growing anger and the potential risk of strike action over the stiffer punishment for using the whip, with Flat jockeys allowed to hit their horse seven times during a race but only five times during the final furlong, while jump jockeys are allowed eight overall and just five after the final obstacle.

Infringements mean long suspensions for riders as well as losing their fee and any percentage of prize money.

Concern reached a peak when Hughes pledged to hand back his licence on Thursday night after falling foul on two occasions and Christophe Soumillon reacted with fury to a ban and the loss of over £50,000 in prize money for his winning ride in the Qipco Champion Stakes.

Soumillon has subsequently appealed.

A BHA statement released last night read: "The Authority's review of the use of the whip in horseracing was undertaken over 10 months by an expert working group involving widespread consultation and evidence gathering from stakeholders across the sport and more widely including animal welfare organisations and the general public.

"The Board has today reiterated its endorsement of the principles behind the review. The new rules, adopted by the Authority, received widespread support from across the industry.

"Any change to regulations must be carefully considered and subject to due process.

"This means that appropriate evidence needs to be reviewed and there will need to be engagement with other relevant parties.

"The Board has directed the Review Group to undertake this process and report back by no later than the end of the week.

"Until any changes are made, the current rules will continue to apply."

After the meeting, none of the jockeys were prepared to comment but Darley said later in a statement: "We will continue to work closely with the BHA in coming days to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion.

"We will await the Authority's response to the very realistic and sensible proposals that the jockeys made to the BHA board today.

"However, time is pressing and amendments to the new rules that jockeys believe are workable need to be adopted very soon.

"As far as jockeys are concerned the current situation cannot continue, and we have made that clear to the BHA.

"A resolution to this issue must be found."

There were no less than five bans for infringing the rules during Monday afternoon's action and Kieren Fox, who was hit with a 15-day suspension at Salisbury last Monday, got another 10 days at Windsor.

At Pontefract Micky Fenton was given a seven-day ban and Joe Fanning and Adrian Nicholls got five each.

Press Association

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