Friday 21 October 2011

BHA Make Change To Whip Rule

The British Horseracing Authority have announced major changes to the controversial new whip regulations - including the removal of the five-hit rule inside the final furlong/after the last obstacle. Jockeys have struggled to come to terms with the guidelines since their introduction last Monday, which allow no more than seven hits in a Flat race and eight over jumps. While that number remains the same, the BHA have scrapped the rule which state jockeys are allowed to use their whip no more than five times inside the final furlong, or after the final obstacle in National Hunt races.

Riders will now not lose their riding fee if suspended for a whip offence. They will also only lose their percentage of prize-money if their offence earns a ban of seven days or more, rather than the three days the rules originally stated.

A BHA statement read: "The board is committed to the highest standards of regulation in the sport, and ensuring that British Horseracing continues to lead the way in matters of equine welfare.

"This is a sport not without its challenges, but they will always be outweighed by the sport's strengths.

"These challenges will best be met - and are being met - by finding a common purpose amongst the sport's participants, and by putting the sport first."

The adjusted guidelines will come into force for all race meetings on Friday afternoon.

The BHA have also considered the impact on those jockeys who have received penalties that would not have been applied if the changes had been in place since the introduction of the new rules.

These penalties will be rescinded and appropriate measures have been taken, including the release of riding fees and prize-money, where applicable, and riding suspensions either annulled or adjusted.

The move means Christophe Soumillon will now receive the substantial percentage of the prize-money for winning the Qipco Champion Stakes on Cirrus Des Aigles at Ascot last Saturday.

He had been stripped of £52,000 and suspended five days.

The alterations have been made after a controversial week under the new guidelines, which saw Richard Hughes and Kieren Fox found guilty of using the whip with excessive frequency on the first afternoon at Salisbury last Monday.

Hughes received a further suspension at Kempton on October 12 and immediately announced he would be handing in his riding licence until changes were made.

Hughes' decision fuelled rumours of a jockeys' strike, after which the BHA agreed to meet with representatives of the Professional Jockeys Association on Monday to discuss their grievances.

The original whip changes were announced by the BHA following a 10-month review.

An outright ban on using the whip during races had come under discussion during the review.

Use of the whip was the subject of much scrutiny when Jason Maguire was found to have struck Ballabriggs 17 times when winning the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree in April. Maguire was suspended five days.

Frankie Dettori was also banned nine days after he hit Rewilding 24 times inside the final two furlongs of the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The British Horseracing Authority's revised whip rules:

1. Removal of the numerical limits in place on the use of the whip in the final stages of races (the last furlong of a Flat race and after the last obstacle in a jumps race).

2. Numerical limits relating to the number of times that the whip can be used in total throughout a race will remain in place (up to seven times in a Flat race and eight times in a jumps race).

3. Jockeys' riding fees will no longer be included in the penalties for whip offences.

4. The number of days' suspension for whip rule breaches before the jockey's prize-money percentage will be forfeited is to be increased from three to seven days. The jockey's prize-money percentage will no longer be forfeited, but a suspension will continue to apply.

5. A rider will now be referred to a disciplinary panel having incurred a fourth suspension of five days or more within the previous 12 months. This advice will be changed to a suspension within the range of two months to six months and an entry point of three months.

Source: Sporting Life