Jockeys face yellow cards

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Rule changes announced by the Jockey Club yesterday include lowering the minimum penalties for jockeys from the start of the Flat turf season on Thursday. The package of measures also brings in ''yellow cards'' for misconduct at the start.

The moves were prompted by a seminar attended by Europe's major racing authorities last September where it became apparent that jockeys riding in Britain are given slightly tougher penalties at the lower end of the scale.

Stewards will now be allowed to give cautions and one-day suspensions in line with Ireland and the rest of Europe.

The Jockey Club has also moved to allow jockeys suspended for two days or fewer to ride in Group One races, or their equivalent, abroad.

Last year Ray Cochrane missed the ride on Travelmate in the Melbourne Cup having picked up a two-day ban at Doncaster and the decision is a response to that. From Thursday a rider can apply to the Jockey Club to have his period of suspension altered if such a situation arises again.

The "yellow card" rule will allow the starter to issue the offending rider with a written warning if his behaviour does not warrant a report to the racecourse stewards. Such misconduct includes a rider allowing his horse to touch the starting tape, his horse's head to be on or over the tape, or to take up position before being instructed to do so.

The Jockey Club also decided that riders guilty of intentional interference or reckless riding will, from 1 April, forfeit their riding fee. Marker poles, introduced on the all-weather four years ago to ensure that jockeys ride to the draw, are to be phased in on turf.