Saturday 16 December 2017

Whip rules changed again as BHA reduce jockey penalties

JUST in time for the start of the first major festival of the jumping season, the British Horseracing Authority yesterday responded to industry pressure to change the new whip rules by announcing four more adjustments.

They include a lessening of the penalties for jockeys and the introduction of discretion for stewards. For one hit over the permitted eight (seven on the Flat), jockeys will now get a two-day ban rather than five; for two hits over, they will get five instead of seven; and for three, they will get seven days instead of nine.

A second offence will incur double the penalty. Seven days remains the threshold ban for a loss of prize money.

In line with other offences, anyone getting a four-day ban or less will be exempt to ride if there is a Group or Grade One on the card during their ban, while stewards can now use an element of discretion on a case-by-case basis.

It is too late for Ruby Walsh now, but he might have got away with a ban for his ride on Edgardo Sol at Aintree had any discretion been available to the stewards. It is not too late for AP McCoy, Silvestre de Sousa and Paul Hanagan, who all picked up five-day bans last week.

These changes come into force today but are retrospective, meaning their bans will all be reduced to two days each.

After riding a treble at Ludlow yesterday, AP McCoy gave a cautious welcome to the changes. "I appreciate they've made these amendments but I haven't read them yet and I'm not going to make the same mistake endorsing them until I have," he said.

Charles Byrnes has revealed that the fencing debut of top-class hurdler Solwhit has been put on hold after he picked up an injury. "It will be the other side of Christmas before Solwhit starts over fences," Byrnes said.

Meanwhile, Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud is responsible for half of the 16 entries for the Bar One Racing Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse on December 4. Cheltenham winners Sir Des Champs and First Lieutenant are among his team.

Willie Mullins' champion hurdler Hurricane Fly features on a list of 19 for the Hatton's Grace Hurdle.

Irish Independent

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