British Horseracing Authority to cut penalties for excessive whip use

Richard Hughes
Richard Hughes briefly gave up his riding licence in protest over the rules

Jockeys found guilty of excessively using the whip will face lesser penalties as a result of an amendment in the rules.

But a rider going one strike over the limit will now receive a two-day ban rather than five.

As a result of the changes made by the British Horseracing Authority, Tony McCoy's ban received at Ffos Las on Sunday will be reduced.

Meanwhile, the punishment for second-time offenders will be doubled from two to four days rather than from five to 10.

Stewards will also hear jockeys' evidence and review video footage of notable incidents.

BHA chairman Paul Roy said: "These developments represent a carefully considered and measured response to both our monitoring procedures and constant dialogue with the PJA (Professional Jockeys' Association) and other relevant parties."

PJA chief executive Kevin Darley said: "This has been the most challenging time for jockeys for many decades, and jockeys have shown considerable restraint in recent weeks.

"These changes are a step in the right direction, but we have no doubt that there is still more to be done.

"The rules and penalties as amended are still too strict, and there will inevitably be more difficulties to overcome in the weeks and months ahead."

Thursday's announcement marks the second set of changes to the new rules, which were originally introduced by the BHA in September following a 10-month review into the use of the whip in the sport.

The controversial rules caused a furore within the jockey community with several high-profile riders threatening to strike.

Three-time Derby winner Johnny Murtagh and fellow Irish jockey Ruby Walsh both stated at the time they would reduce their riding appearances in Britain because of the changes.

Roy insists, however, that the rules were brought in for valid reasons and will improve horseracing in the long term.

"There were fundamental reasons for the changes we introduced last month. They were for the good of the sport and its long-term health, including all its participants, and all groups consulted agreed that new rules were needed," he added.

"The sport as a whole now needs to cooperate to make the new rules work, and move forward to achieve what we all want to see - a firm but fair set of rules that promote competitive racing, and safeguard welfare and the reputation of British Racing."

However, the alterations have been strongly criticised by World Horse Welfare, which participated in the BHA's original review of the whip.

"We are utterly dismayed with the further reductions in penalties," said a statement.

"This is a backwards step. We have emphasised that racing needs a behaviour-changing penalty structure to stop overuse of the whip. The weaker the penalties, the less likely they are to have an effect.

"The rules must be given a chance to bed in. It has been barely four weeks and many have noticed that the racing is actually much better, and better to watch.

"We understand that the rules have to work in practice, and giving stewards more discretion may help to achieve this. They are very experienced and we believe will do their best to make the right judgements."