• Horse Racing

BHA relax sanctions for whip rules

ESPN staff
November 10, 2011

Racing chiefs have agreed to reduce penalties for excessive use of the whip after widespread criticism of the controversial new rules.

The British Horseracing Authority has announced further amendments to the guidelines which were originally introduced on October 10 but have been met with disapproval from the weighing room.

Tony McCoy was furious after being slapped with a five-day ban on Saturday, while Ruby Walsh and Richard Hughes have also been outspoken in their criticism of the new rules - the latter handing in his racing licence in protest.

The BHA has agreed to relax the sanctions for jockeys who fall foul of the new rules. While the rules remain the same, jockeys who exceed the maximum number of uses (seven for a flat race and eight over jumps) by a single stroke will receive a two-day ban, rather than the current five. While the punishment for a second offence will be doubled, it will be from two days to four, rather than five to ten.

Jockeys will also have the opportunity to give evidence to stewards, who will review video footage to identify if any uses of the whip might be legitimately discarded - McCoy claimed on Saturday one of the uses of his whip was a flick rather than a smack.

"I gave him a flick after the third-last and obviously I forgot about it, but it was literally a flick and that counts as a smack now," he said on Saturday. "It was barely a flick - I'd have done more good if I'd have patted him I think."

"These developments represent a carefully considered and measured response to both our monitoring procedures and constant dialogue with the PJA (Professional Jockeys Association) and other relevant parties," BHA chairman Paul Roy said in a statement.

"A key purpose of the (whip) review was to achieve behavioural change. This absolutely remains the case, and the same high standards of good horsemanship and equine welfare remain at the heart of our approach to the whip. We are encouraged that we have seen a great deal of behavioural change in a short time period since the implementation of the recommendations of the review.

"However, in terms of the specific rules and penalties themselves, it has always been our position that we will constantly monitor how jockeys are adapting. If by making adjustments we can achieve behavioural change more effectively, then as a responsible regulator we should do that.

"There were fundamental reasons for the changes we introduced last month. They were for the good of the sport and its long-term health, including all its participants, and all groups consulted agreed that new rules were needed.

"The sport as a whole now needs to cooperate to make the new rules work, and move forward to achieve what we all want to see - a firm but fair set of rules that promote competitive racing, and safeguard welfare and the reputation of British racing."

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