BHA announce changes to starting procedures for jump races

In a move that will have ramifications for any Irish trained runner in a National Hunt race in Britain, the BHA yesterday outlined a raft of new starting procedures for jumps races in a bid to avoid a repeat of the controversial start to last season’s Crabbie’s Grand National.

All bar one of the 40 jockeys in the £1 million chase faced a BHA disciplinary inquiry to determine whether they had breached any rules regarding conduct at the start, with runners breaking through the starting tape as one horse, Battle Group, refused to line up.

Although no disciplinary action was taken against the jockeys, the BHA has introduced a series of amendments to offer what it claims is greater clarity for starters and jockeys.

A key point among 13 amendments which will come into effect from next Monday is the removal of ‘goggle shouts’ — an indication of time remaining until to start of a race.

Responsibility now falls solely on the riders to be prepared, including having their goggles down, for the start.

Goggle shouts were previously recognised as a regular occurence to warn jockeys when the start of a jumps race was approaching, and all jockeys involved in the Grand National hearing said they had taken up their starting positions as they had heard such a shout.

Also included in the amendments is that a race will not start if the runners are too far back, with runners expected to be “approximately 25-30 yards maximum” from the start line.

The field must come forward at a walk and no faster than a jig-jog, and races will not be started if the field line up and commence to move forward before the starter raises his flag or if the field approach the start faster than a jig-jog before the tape is released and the flag lowered.

If a false start occurs, the field will regroup at the marker pole and standing start to the satisfaction of the starter will be effected, with a walk-in start not tried again.

For two weeks from October 13, the new changes will be subject to a bedding in period, so any jockey found guilty of not adhering to the new rules will be reported to the stewards, but they may not take punitive action if they believe the jockey’s actions are not of wilful disregard for the new procedures.

nTony McCoy went for precautionary X-rays in Cheltenham following a nasty fall in the last race at Worcester yesterday.

The 18-times champion jockey was dramatically unshipped from the Rebecca Curtis-trained Keep Presenting at the first flight of the Injured Jockeys Fund 50th Anniversary Maiden Hurdle.

Keep Presenting jinked badly left and also brought down the Noel Fehily-ridden St Johns Point in the process, with McCoy also getting a kick for his troubles.

McCoy received lengthy treatment from Worcester’s medical team, but he was able to walk into an on-course ambulance for further treatment and appeared to have escaped serious injury.

Worcester clerk of the course Keith Ottesen said this evening: “He’s got chest bruising and has gone for precautionary X-rays, which he has done under his own steam, under the guidance of the racecourse doctor. He was walking, he got a shower and got dressed, it was purely precautionary.”

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