Strike threat recedes as jockeys' body agrees to talks on whip rules

Richard Hughes
Richard Hughes has given up his riding licence in protest at two bans in four days

The threat of a strike by jockeys has receded after the Professional Jockeys Association agreed to meet the British Horseracing Authority on Monday.

Some Flat jockeys had said they would not be available for Monday's fixtures following the introduction of new BHA rules on the use of the whip.

"It is imperative that these matters are settled as soon as possible," PJA chief executive Kevin Darley said.

Richard Hughes said he would not ride until the new rules were reconsidered.

The PJA has accepted an invitation from the BHA to attend its planned board meeting on Monday so its representatives can elaborate on the submission they have made, prior to further detailed consideration of whip rules by the BHA's review group.

However, the BHA has also confirmed that it will not be suspending the current rules before those discussions take place.

Darley added: "We are pleased that the BHA board will meet the representatives of jockeys so that together we can resolve the current issues concerning the whip rules."

The PJA said it was recommending that those jockeys who were considering pulling out of races at Monday's meetings should now take their planned rides as originally scheduled.

The new guidelines mean the whip can only be used a maximum of seven times in a Flat race and eight times over the jumps - roughly half the previous limit.

In addition, a maximum of five strokes may be administered in the final furlong, or from the final obstacle.

Hughes, 38, was penalised under this clause, resulting in him receiving two bans in the space of four days.

"I was wholeheartedly behind bringing down the number of times you can hit a horse," Hughes told BBC Radio 5 live.

"I was at the forefront, saying it's not a bad thing and we need to get used to it.

"But they've set a trap for us. We asked for a simple number and they couldn't do that.

"Jamie Stier [the head of the BHA's raceday regulation] said he consulted us, but he did no such thing. I haven't spoken to the BHA myself. We told them we were finding it difficult but they said they weren't changing so get used to it."

Former jockey Bob Champion, who won the 1981 Grand National on Aldaniti, said he felt the new rules were fair and that he did not support the idea of a strike.

"Jockeys were in favour of seven uses," said Champion. "The problem comes [when jockeys are only allowed to use the whip] five times in the last furlong or from the last fence.

"I feel that on the flat, it should be used seven times [from start to finish] during the race. I think that would be the best way and I think everybody would be happy with that.

"These rules have got to come in because the public do not like it.

"I don't think going on strike is going to help at all. It will only upset the owners."

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