Tough new whip rules for jockeys


In a debate often distorted by high emotion, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) merits congratulation for achieving so temperate a compromise between opposing extremes in announcing new whip rules yesterday. On the one hand, none could doubt that the new regime, to be introduced on 10 October, will be much firmer; on the other, in gaining clarity, it has almost certainly gained in fairness, too.

No jockey who can count to eight will be able to pretend any uncertainty as to where he stands; and nor should any rider be quite so tempted to flout the rules when the stakes are raised in a big race. Sure enough, the revised regulations received a guarded welcome both from jockeys and animal welfare groups.

They reflect recommendations by a review group first convened 10 months ago, whose work obtained heightened significance after public distress over Jason Maguire's riding of Ballabriggs in the John Smith's Grand National in April. In a ground-breaking policy shift, the suspension Maguire picked up that day would now – almost certainly – not only be extended, but also be compounded by forfeiture of his share of the prize-money.

Some argue that only disqualification of the horse itself – so extending punishment to its owners, trainer and backers – will convince riders to respect much reduced thresholds in the biggest races. But the onus is plainly with jockeys themselves to embrace an implicit behavioural agenda, or risk the eventual abolition of the whip altogether. After all, riders such as Paul Hanagan and Kieren Fallon – first and second in the table, with over 1,600 rides between them this season, and both very rare transgressors – have shown that sound discipline is not just consistent with success, but more likely to produce it.

For now the review makes a cogent defence of the whip's retention, concluding: "Use of the whip – providing strict controls are effectively enforced – remains appropriate and necessary for the safety of both jockeys and horses. Use of the whip to focus and concentrate a horse, and to encourage it to perform at its best, also remains appropriate... This approach is backed by current animal welfare science."

At the same time, it was acknowledged that the existing penalty structure demonstrably represented an inadequate deterrent. All interest groups consulted agreed that something had to be done.

Frankie Dettori, suspended nine days for striking Rewilding 24 times at Royal Ascot in June, endorsed the new rules. "I am not proud of having fallen foul of the whip rules in the past, but I have never harmed a horse," he stressed. "These new rules are easy to understand, which will help all jockeys ride within them."

Tony McCoy, champion jockey for the past 16 years, had issues with the whip in earlier years but feels that his forceful style can still thrive within narrowed parameters. "The Professional Jockeys' Association has worked closely with the Authority on the review and I hope my colleagues embrace the proposed changes as being in the best interest of the sport," he said.

Though disappointed use of the whip in the forehand position has not been prohibited, the RSPCA offered a "cautious welcome" to the changes. Its equine consultant, David Muir, noted that their other five recommendations had all been adopted. "We hope these changes will mean that the few jockeys who have misused the whip will think twice in future," he said. "Otherwise they are setting a bad example, and making the sport appear cruel."

New rules

* The whip may be used no more than eight times in a race over jumps; seven times on the Flat.

* The whip may be used a maximum of five times from the final jump; or from the furlong pole on the Flat.

* Stiffer punishments will apply. Minimum five-day ban for breaching frequency limits. The previous minimum was a caution.

* Jockeys suspended for three days or more will forfeit their riding fee and prize-money percentage.

* Extra punishment for repeat offenders; penalty for second offence will be double the first.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Tahaamah (5.40 Kempton) Return to this trip will suit, judged on how he travelled until worn down late in testing ground last time.

Next best

Spanish Pride (3.20 Nottingham) Caught eye on her return and absence since suggests a problem when disappointing next time; worth another chance.

One to watch

Man Of Action (Saeed bin Suroor) Gave the impression he is still thriving when caught in traffic in the Cambridgeshire.

Where the money's going

With conditions increasingly tempting, Snow Fairy is 14-1 from 16-1 with Coral for Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'