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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

McCririck Chomping At The Whip

John McCririck has hit out at the BHA's new whip rules and says the governing body has "ducked the issue". The Channel 4 pundit has long been in favour of the abolition of the whip but says that the British Horseracing Authority's new directive is simply the latest in a series of compromises.

Under new legislation due to come into force in two weeks jockeys riding on the Flat will be able to use the whip a maximum of seven times in a race, with no more than five of those to be in the final furlong.

In National Hunt races the whip can be used a maximum of eight times with no more than five of those being after the last flight.

Transgressors will be fined, with jockeys having their licences reviewed it they fall foul of the rules on three occasions.

"It's like giving someone a machine gun and saying use only single rounds," said McCricick. "Of course more offences now take place in big races. The Grand National, Royal Ascot. Frankie Dettori on Rewilding for instance.

"It is because the big races are the important ones to go and win and jockeys don't forget. They know all they are going to get in the end is a fine. Horses won't be disqualified and I don't believe you should disqualify horses for breaking a rule like this though some people do.

"For instance in football if you score a goal and you're offside, however great the goal is it doesn't count. Here the rules are being broken. Even the old ones let alone the new ones they're bringing in but that is not the answer to it.

"These compromises will never satisfy anybody. Those who believe in the use of the whip and the abolitionists. In the end we have got to face up to what we are as human beings. We are providing an entertainment industry in racing and yet here we go hitting horses and it just sickens people.

"We've got to realise that the days of hitting horses to try and make them win has become unacceptable in the modern age we live in. The ruling BHA have once again fallen down on their responsibilities and have ducked the issue."

Even so, the outspoken former bookmaker does not believe the whip should be completely discarded.

"Nobody says do away with the whip altogether. Hold the whip in the reins, for steering purposes, absolutely right.

"Nobody is saying you should have whipless races so that you don't use a whip just to control a horse for steering purposes, but not to go and hit it.

"Whether it's a feather whip or not, and nobody asks a horse about this, the fact is that more races are lost because of use of the whip than won because of the use of it.

"Look at the head-on camera patrols when you see horse swerving away. If you were being hit with it you would move away naturally and instinctively duck away from a whip, so it causes more trouble in races.

"And people say well 'Would Lester Piggott have won the Derby on Roberto and The Minstrel in the seventies? He wouldn't because of the rat-tat-tat use of the whip. But we're in a different age now and it is unacceptable.

"So much is on television. It's seen by millions of people. The Grand National was a spectacle in one way, but in the end, all it's remembered for are those poor horses at the end gasping and I think hit 17 times Ballabriggs, the winner, was hit by Jason Maguire. This is totally unacceptable.

"The British Horseracing Authority has been pusillanimous. All they have done is make another compromise. Just look back at the number of times we've had these compromises. We go on and on and we can't face up to the reality. The whip is doomed."