Whip rule alterations welcomed
After three previous attempts, British racing has hopefully had its final crack at imposing a set of rules regarding use of the whip that can be put into practice and universally accepted.
'Discretion' and 'interpretation' are now the bywords for stewards.
Once a ride is called into question, stewards will review the jockey's use of the whip throughout the race and may decide certain strikes do not count against the total permitted.
They will focus on the degree of force with which the whip was used, the purpose for which it was employed and for how long. They can also consider if the horse was continuing to respond to the rider.
With the final hurdles in the detail cleared, Paul Struthers, the chief executive of the Professional Jockeys' Association, arrived at Lingfield yesterday full of confidence that his members would do their part to ensure the rules worked.
"We welcome what the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) have announced. Everything they have done is not for the benefit of jockeys (in isolation), it is for the benefit of racing overall. Jockeys are in no doubt that the guiding limits (on the number of hits) are perfectly acceptable," he said.
"The guiding principles, of seven hits on the Flat and eight over jumps, remain the same, but with discretion. It is not just a numbers game. Jockeys are able to show skill and judgment, without worrying 'have I got one hit left or not?' at the end of a race."
The way the whip is used, and not just the number of times it is used, now becomes a focus of attention.
BHA chief executive Paul Bittar has directed that he does not want to see whip bans become the focal point of next week's Cheltenham Festival, or the Grand National.
Although jockeys will no longer lose all their prize money if found guilty of improper use, they still face fines of up to £10,000 in Flat races with prize money of £27,000 or more and jump races worth £20,000 plus. (© Daily Telegraph, London)