BHA expect whip review by end of the week

A decision on any adjustments to the British Horseracing Authority’s controversial new whip rules is expected by the end of this week.

The BHA board listened to representatives of the Professional Jockeys Association in London yesterday amid widespread anger from riders and the potential risk of strike action.

The new rules were introduced last Monday and were believed to have been approved by jockeys and trainers, but many soon started to speak out against them.

Flat jockeys can use their whip seven times during a race but only five times during the final furlong, while jump jockeys are allowed eight strikes in all and just five of those after the final obstacle.

Concern reached a peak when Richard Hughes pledged to hand back his licence on Thursday night after falling foul on two occasions.

And Christophe Soumillon reacted with fury to receiving a ban and forfeiting over £50,000 in prize-money after being found to have hit Saturday’s Qipco Champion Stakes winner Cirrus Des Aigles six times in the final furlong. Soumillon has lodged an appeal to the BHA against the punishments handed out on Saturday.

Hughes, Tony McCoy, Ryan Moore and Frankie Dettori, as well as trainer John Gosden, joined Kevin Darley, chief executive of the PJA, at yesterday’s meeting.

A BHA statement read: “The Authority’s review of the use of the whip in horseracing was undertaken over 10 months by an expert working group involving widespread consultation and evidence gathering from stakeholders across the sport and more widely including animal welfare organisations and the general public.

“The Board has today reiterated its endorsement of the principles behind the review. The new rules, adopted by the Authority, received widespread support from across the industry.

“Any change to regulations must be carefully considered and subject to due process.

“This means that appropriate evidence needs to be reviewed and there will need to be engagement with other relevant parties.

“The Board has directed the Review Group to undertake this process and report back by no later than the end of the week.

“Until any changes are made, the current rules will continue to apply.

“The Board would like to thank the PJA for taking the time to attend this meeting and for their constructive engagement and commitment to work for the best outcome for British Racing. The Board and Review group will continue to liaise with the PJA in the coming days.”

After the meeting which lasted roughly 90 minutes, none of the jockeys were prepared to comment, but Darley emerged satisfied they had a chance to put forward their case.

“We put our points across very well and we have to see what comes out of the meeting and what they decide,” he said.

Darley said in a statement last night: “We will continue to work closely with the British Horseracing Authoritty in coming days to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion.

“We will await the Authority’s response to the very realistic and sensible proposals that the jockeys made to the BHA board today.

“However, time is pressing and amendments to the new rules that jockeys believe are workable need to be adopted very soon. As far as jockeys are concerned the current situation cannot continue, and we have made that clear to the BHA. A resolution to this issue must be found.”

McCoy and Hughes declined to comment last evening.

Cheltenham Gold Cup-wining jockey Andrew Thornton said: “I suppose it has taken them 10 months to get this far, so we shouldn’t be surprised (about the further review). Unfortunately, there will be other casualties from now until the end of the week.

“What I can’t understand is, they are going to wait, but it is OK for lads to lose their livelihood.

“We make mistakes and we get punished. There have been mistakes made, but does anybody else get punished? I don’t know. From a jockey’s point of view, I don’t know what else we can do.”

“We are trying our hardest, but it’s not as simple as it may seem.”

lKieren Fox, who fell foul on the first day of the new regime, got another significant ban at Windsor yesterday.

The apprentice jockey was hit with a five-day suspension at Salisbury last Monday and got another 10 days this time when he finished second on Push Me in the concluding Ben Woollacott Memorial Handicap.

Taking into account this was his second offence, and at the upper level, Fox must sit out November 12 and 14-24 as well as losing his riding fee and prize money percentage.

It was even busier at Pontefract with Micky Fenton the hardest hit with a seven-day ban, while Joe Fanning and Adrian Nicholls got five each.

Down at Plumpton, amateur jockey Jack Quinlan was also given seven days under the same rules.

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