Jockeys Rhys Flint and Jamie Moore experienced flip-sides of the latest whip regulations in a close finish to the Betfair Brings You Better Value Novices’ Hurdle at Fontwell.
Flint and Heavenstown took the race by a diminishing neck from the Moore-ridden Ballyfoy and while the winning rider was given a five-day ban by the British Horseracing Authority’s stewards at the Sussex course, Moore was left feeling frustrated by the restrictions.
The BHA put their most recent amendments to the whip rules into action on Tuesday and any more strikes than eight in a National Hunt race automatically triggers a stewards’ inquiry, during which the officials can use their discretion over punishment.
Flint admitted to using the stick 11 times on his father John’s Heavenstown, who was still clear at the final flight but only just saw off a desperate late challenge from Ballyfoy.
The stewards suspended him from March 21-25 for using the whip above the permitted level, and without allowing sufficient time for his mount to respond.
“It was 11 times, but I was just trying my best and it’s a shame you’re punished for trying your best,” said Flint.
“I didn’t want to hit the horse, I put my stick down, but the other horse came to me and I was only doing what I had to to win.
“I knew I was close to the limit but you have so many things to worry about and I was winning the race for my dad and the owner.
“It sucks, but there’s nothing you can do about it, and those are the rules.”
His opponent, who was also riding for his father in trainer Gary Moore, had needed to give repeated encouragement to Ballyfoy, an almost endless stayer who tends to get outpaced during races.
Moore gave the definite impression he would have won if allowed to use the whip more frequently.
He said: “It’s the rules. I knew I had hit it seven times and I daren’t hit it any more.”