A new ruling banning the use of mobile phones in weighing rooms pushed jockeys to stage two walkouts during yesterday’s meets at Leicester and Hamilton Racecourses.
In a peaceful protest against the new ruling, they left both courses en masse between races to stand by the roadside and make token calls, send text messages and even pose for photographs at Hamilton. They consider the ban on mobiles insulting, fear it makes them appear untrustworthy and say the new arrangements are highly inconvenient.
Jockeys are now banned from using mobiles from 30 minutes before the first race until either they leave the racecourse or the last race has started, in an attempt to prevent last minute information being passed from the weighing room to professional gamblers.
The ruling has been introduced as a consequence of the ‘Wright Trials’ in 2000 and 2001, when evidence showed how the use of mobile phones in the changing rooms could undermine racing’s integrity.
Three phones will now be available for jockeys’ use in a designated area, and jockeys will have a pin number so calls can be charged to them. With the permission of Weighing Room Security Officers, mobiles can be used in a designated area if a Jockey Club phone is not available, messages can be checked and special permission for the use of mobiles may be given in emergency situations. Calls on Jockey Club phones will not be recorded.
Spokesman for the Jockey Club, Owen Byrne, said that they want to trial the new system for a few weeks but that they are keen to find a compromise, adding that the Jockey Club is “committed to further consultation with the jockeys”.