Racing: Jockeys warn of backlash

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The Independent Online
RIDERS called yesterday for racing's rulers to hold back from imposing new limits on the use of the whip. But this plea is expected to be ignored when the Jockey Club makes a decision on Monday.

The proposed new maximum of five cracks with the whip had been plucked from the air and was being introduced to appease a small minority of the public, said Michael Caulfield, secretary of the Jockeys' Association.

'However well-intentioned the Jockey Club recommendations may be, they would sound the starting bell for the rapid decline of English racing,' Caulfield said. 'We can still claim to have the most competitive racing in the world, but for how much longer? There is time to talk again, there is no rush.'

Jockeys were represented on the working group which examined the whip guidelines, but their views had been disregarded. Caulfield claimed the group had been unbalanced in its make-up and had cast riders 'in the role of continual offenders'.

The 'giant strides' made by jockeys to alter their riding styles had not been acknowledged and statistics suggesting a considerable rise in whip abuse last year had been mis-interpreted. 'The sole reason for the increase in inquiries and suspensions was that local stewards were asked to be more vigilant in 1992,' Caulfield said.