Ruby hits out at new whip rules after ban
The sorry debacle engulfing the new whip rules in Britain just won't go away.
Following the British Horseracing Authority's (BHA) concessions on Friday, jump jockeys in particular still looked to have grounds for grievance, and so it proved. Ruby Walsh got a five-day ban after getting Edgardo Sol up by a nose at Aintree on Saturday.
As a result, Walsh and several fellow riders planned to boycott the subsequent race in protest, only to be talked around by, among others, Tony McCoy. An angry Walsh declared: "If that deserves a five-day ban, the game is f***ed."
Walsh is now debating how many times he'll ride across the Irish Sea this season.
"I'm not going to Chepstow on Tuesday and I won't be in Wetherby on Friday, and I'll have a look at the declarations for the Charlie Hall before deciding whether to go for that or not," Walsh said.
"I'm facing a 10-day suspension the next time I offend so every ride I take in the UK from now on has to be seriously calculated. It has to be worth the risk. In the UK for the prize-money that's there, it's not worth the risk. I've got too many commitments to Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls to be doing that."
The new penalties are harsh and jump jockeys certainly have a right to feel that the overall number of strikes is so low -- just one more than on the Flat -- but the fact is the old sanctions were ineffective.
Once again, the circumstances under which the Kildare rider was found guilty highlight a desperate anomaly in the new rules.
Walsh was deemed to have hit Edgardo Sol nine times in total, yet only eight of those were behind the saddle. When he struck the horse down the shoulder in the forehand position on the run to the final fence, though, that counted as one because he took his hand off the reins, and so he transgressed the limit of eight by one.
In short, slaps such as that are almost exclusively to ensure that a tiring horse is concentrating on the obstacle in front. An analogy that has been used is that of a coach slapping his boxer on the face between rounds, and it is entirely apt. On this occasion, then, Walsh's reaction is justified.
Jockeys should be encouraged to slap a horse on the shoulder approaching an obstacle, not discouraged; it is effectively a safety measure, one that few employ better than Walsh, a jockey whose percentage of fallers late on in races must be practically non-existent.
And so, while there is a fleeting temptation to recommend that a well-paid rider of Walsh's calibre should just knuckle down and get on with his job within the confines set down, that would be to accept the BHA have got this right.
Patently, they still haven't.
Only time will tell us if
Camelot will be a legend
Aidan O'Brien was characteristically hyperbolic in his post-race praise of Camelot after the colt's Doncaster stroll under his son Joseph on Saturday.
"In comparison to other horses his data was incredible," the Ballydoyle handler gushed of the Derby favourite's homework.
"When the lads (John Magnier et al) saw him at the sales, they said he was something like they had never seen before."
Camelot was incredibly impressive, but questions remain about the quality of the contest, as the next three home won just a race apiece previously.
That said, with Jim Bolger's Godolphin-bound Zip Top second, it was another excellent result for Irish-trained juveniles, which have now won four of the five cross-channel Group Ones for two-year-olds. Roll on 2012.
Dirar fifth in America
Gordon Elliott's Dirar finished fifth in the American Grand National at Far Hills in New Jersey on Saturday night. The $250,000 hurdle was won by the former Rebecca Curtis-trained Black Jack Blues under Meath native Ross Geraghty, who was winning the race for a second time.
Pulled up at the Galway Festival in July, Black Jack Blues is now owned by the American Irvine S Naylor, whose Alfa Beat won last month's Kerry National under Ross' brother, Barry.
Ride of the weekend
Paddy Brennan excelled on Champion Court at Aintree yesterday. He ploughed through a few fences but Brennan never budged and got him home from Saint Are.
The Galway-born rider went on to complete a double on Barbatos.
Gordon Elliott produced Tharawaat in tremendous shape to score at Galway yesterday. On its first start since May, Davy Russell's mount made light of top-weight and heavy ground to see off race-fit rivals by 10 lengths.
Last Instalment denies
Russell treble at Galway
In-form Davy Russell found himself on the wrong Gigginstown Stud-owned horse in yesterday's beginners' chase.
Russell -- having already completed a double -- rode Fists Of Fury for Charles Byrnes.
But it was the classy Philip Fenton-trained Last Instalment (3/1) that scored on its reappearance for Brian O'Connell.
Number of the weekend
86 Alain Cawley's domestic career haul prior to starting a new job today with Martin Keighley in Gloucestershire. The Galway native has long been associated with Paul Nolan's stable, winning last year's Hennessy Gold Cup on Joncol.
"Was doin 75mph on the way home, a copper pulled upsides me waving to slow down, good job he doesn't work for the BHA otherwise I'd have 3points!" -- Conditional jockey Richie Killoran has a swipe at the UK's regulatory body.
Having advised the 6/1 winner Flic Flac at Dundalk on Friday night, Richard Forristal's best bet on Saturday, Edgardo Sol won at 7/1 at Aintree. Leave Him Alone (11/8) landed the nap yesterday before Viaduct Joey (7/1) obliged.