Further changes to the whip rules in racing will come into action today (Friday 11 November).
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) said yesterday (Thursday 10 November) that following a period of “close monitoring” more amendments have been made.
From today penalties for excessive use are to be lessened and stewards will be able to use increased discretion and judge on a case-by-case basis.
There will be no changes to the seven strokes permitted in Flat races and eight in jump races. But the minimum five-day suspension for a using the whip once more than allowed has now been reduced to two days. Jockeys will now get a five day suspension for two extra strokes and seven days for three extra strokes. This would double for a second offence.
And if a jockey receives a suspension of four days less they may now defer the ban if they were to miss out on a Group One or Grade One ride.
The BHA said the new Rules introduced on 10 October were to “achieve behavioural change and address improper and excessive whip use”. This followed complaints after high profile offences – including Jason Maguire aboard Grand National winner Ballabriggs.
But the changes were met with outcry by jockeys – with threats of strikes and the rules were amended for the first time on 21 October.
The BHA added that in the four weeks since the rules were amended there has been “a considerable and immediate change in attitudes towards, and use of, the whip” by jockeys.
“There were fundamental reasons for the changes we introduced last month. They were for the good of the sport and its long-term health. 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,” said Paul Roy, chairman of the BHA.
But the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) believes more still needs to be done.
“This has been the most challenging time for jockeys for many decades and they have shown considerable restraint in recent weeks,” said PJA chief executive Kevin Darley.
“These changes are a step in the right direction, but we have no doubt that there is stillmore 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”.