• Horse Racing

BHA approve whip rule changes

ESPN staff
February 21, 2012
The controversial whip rules are set to be relaxed next month © Getty Images

Changes to the controversial whip rules for jockeys have been approved by the British Horseracing Authority.

The BHA confirmed that current restrictions, widely criticised by jockeys, would be relaxed and a revised penalty structure would be implemented in time for next month's Cheltenham Festival.

While the current regulations deem it an automatic breach when a rider uses the whip eight times on the flat and nine times over jumps, the figures will now act as a trigger for stewards to review the ride and decide whether a breach has occurred.

New BHA chief executive Paul Bittar admitted the current regulations were "fundamentally flawed" and confirmed the intention for the rules to be amended before the Cheltenham Festival, which begins on March 13.

"Over four months have passed since the introduction of the first set of rules following the Whip Review," Bittar said.

"Despite a number of changes to both the rule and the accompanying penalty structure it is clear that while many objectives of the review are being met, and in particular those pertaining to horse welfare, a rule which polices the use of the whip based solely on a fixed number of strikes is fundamentally flawed.

"While well intentioned, and in accordance with initial requests from the jockeys for clarity and consistency via a fixed number, in practice the new rules have repeatedly thrown up examples of no consideration being given to the manner in which the whip is used as well as riders being awarded disproportionate penalties for the offence committed.

"We are confident there is not a welfare problem associated with the use of the cushioned whip in British racing. The objective of this proposal is to keep jockeys riding to a similar standard as they are now with regard to their significantly reduced use of the whip, but with added discretion and common sense applied by stewards when considering whether a rider is in breach of the rules."

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