Racing: Cauthen is shown no mercy: Richard Edmondson on how a rider's punishment by the Jockey Club could usher in new rules on whip technique

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The Independent Online
STEVE CAUTHEN'S efforts to escape a riding ban perished at the Jockey Club yesterday but the campaign to amend the whip laws under which he was punished gained fresh life.

After Cauthen was given a further six-day ban to accompany the four-day suspension he picked up at Goodwood last Thursday, the American rider and Michael Caulfield, the secretary of the Jockeys' Association, pledged to ensure that a jockey would never again be brought to Portman Square under such circumstances.

'The Jockeys' Association are disappointed with today's result and will now gauge how we can proceed to improve instruction H9,' Caulfield said. 'The Club has got to listen because it's time for change.'

Cauthen's misdemeanour last week was to strike his mount Daru down the shoulder with his whip in the outlawed forehand position. After excessive use of this practice in 1988 the Jockey Club introduced a ban, but many in the sport believe the technique to be a legitimate part of race-riding.

The majority of jockeys consider a forehand slap on the shoulder a benefit to navigation and no more damaging to their mounts than a blow behind the saddle.

Cauthen arrived at yesterday's inquiry with formidable backing. Known as racing's 'ambassador' for his clean image, the jockey also showed the political nous of a diplomat in bringing with him fellow jockeys Pat Eddery and Michael Roberts, as well as Daru's trainer, John Gosden. Among his papers was the written support of top names within the support. But Cauthen, like many before him, found that even Perry Mason would be odds against to win a case at Portman Square.

Under the present rules, the Jockey Club had little option but to discipline him. They ruled that Daru had been struck down the shoulder while the whip was in the forehand position on four occasions, and refused to accept Cauthen's mitigation for his ride.

But the jockey, and many others, believe the rules themselves to be fundamentally flawed.

As he emerged from the inquiry, the jockey talked of his dissatisfaction about the outcome next to a framed photograph of a far happier encounter, the 1987 Derby he won on Reference Point. By his side, wife Amy carried the whip which had put him in the dock.

'Naturally I am very disappointed with the result, especially as I felt that the evidence and explanations produced would be accepted,' he said. 'I feel nothing would be gained by appealing, but hope that this case will be a catalyst for positive change of an unsatisfactory situation and therefore that racing ultimately will have benefited.

'I'm grateful that Michael Roberts and Pat Eddery took off 14 mounts between them (at Brighton) to be present at the inquiry and that statements in support of our case were provided by (jockeys) Lester Piggott, George Duffield, Walter Swinburn and by (trainers) David Nicholson, Michael Stoute, Clive Brittain, Henry Cecil and Luca Cumani. I regret that this whole matter could not have been handled in a more constructive manner.'

The new suspension means he will miss the ride on Kitwood in the Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville on Sunday week, though the former champion jockey will be back in the saddle for the first day of York's Ebor meeting.

While Cauthen will be absent from our racecourses for 10 days, the debate over his punishment will carry on. Roberts was probably speaking for many inmates of the weighing room when he said: 'The rules are not going to change overnight, but they must be looked at because I think they're silly. The first time I saw the whip used effectively down the shoulder was over here. More and more top riders are doing it.

'In the race in which Steve was done, there were four or five other jockeys who hit their horses in front of the saddle. It helps the horse to concentrate. You don't see horses swish their tails when they are hit in front of the saddle, but there are many more that do when they're hit down the flank.'

The Jockeys' Association will now move with increased resolve to have Rule H9 amended when it meets with the Jockey Club's Disciplinary Committee on 8 September.

'The time has come to amend certain parts of the guidelines, as jockeys do not harm animals in any way and the instruction must now be written to reflect their style of riding,' Caulfield said. 'The Jockey Club will have to alter its stance slightly and trust views that will be put forward by the jockeys. The Club's current policy is clearly counter-productive to the image of racing.'

Above all, Caulfield wants to see an end to what he considers to be official intransigence. 'We accept that parts of instruction H9 have worked admirably, but there are one or two small points which now have to be cleared up,' he said. 'It's no use saying 'that's jolly good of you chaps, thanks for the information and move away' they must accept the views of the professionals.

'They've seen today films of good riding being penalised and that's not the point of instruction H9. Guidelines on the use of the whip were brought in to stamp out any harm to animals and that it has done. Point accepted.

'Now the instruction must be re-written to reflect the modern style of riding which is tight, compact, tidy and a pleasure to watch.'

(Photograph omitted)

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