In the first week of the new whip rules, twenty suspensions were issued.
Under the British Horseracing Authority’s revised whip regulations, 20 riding suspensions were issued during the first week, with one serious violation leading to disqualification.
After a period of settling in during which the new penalty structure was not in effect but jockeys were informed of the penalties they would have received for violations, the new rules went into effect on February 13.
All breaches are referred to the Whip Review Committee, which met on Tuesday to evaluate the cases. Whip bans are no longer issued on the day of the offense.
When Charlotte Jones was beaten a head into second on Jimmy Moffatt’s Lunar Discovery at Ayr on Tuesday, it was discovered that she used her whip 11 times.
Her mount was disqualified because she exceeded the seven-stroke limit by four strokes, and the Committee stated that “none of the hits were clearly and unequivocally for safety purposes.” As a result, Jones will be banned for 14 days (from March 7 to March 20 inclusive).
One of the most well-known people to break the rules is Lorcan Williams, who will miss the Cheltenham Festival after receiving an 18-day suspension for his win on Makin’yourmindup at Haydock on Saturday.
After driving home Makin’yourmindup in a close finish to the Prestige Novices’ Hurdle, Williams, who is associated with the stable of champion trainer Paul Nicholls, had feared he would be severely punished.
He was found guilty of using his whip twice more than the allowed amount; however, due to the fact that the race was a Grade Two event, a harsher penalty was imposed in accordance with the new structure.
His suspension will remain in effect until March 24. Williams also received a £1,050 fine.
Kevin Brogan, the rider who finished second in that race, also used his whip more frequently than is allowed. His extra strike resulted in an eight-day suspension, which doubled his suspensions for class one and two races.
Derek Fox, Aidan Coleman, and Gavin Sheehan were also on the list of people to be suspended. The first two of them were banned for seven days, while Luke Scott was banned for 14 days for riding on Progressive at Wetherby.
Harry Kimber received two separate bans, which means that 19 riders broke the rules. Three violations occurred in the same conditional jockeys’ hurdle at Newcastle on February 16 and resulted in 19 riders breaking the rules.
Overuse was not the only factor that led to breaches; some riders, like Coleman, were found to have used the whip with the arm above shoulder height while others were found to have not given their mounts enough time to respond.
After a process of consultation, the new rules were made. In January, the original directive, which had intended to ban the use of the whip in the forehand, was changed to allow for fewer strikes and harsher penalties.
Following the issuing of suspensions, David Jones, chair of the Whip Consultation Steering Group, said: “The changes to the whip rules implemented last week were the result of an exhaustive consultation process.
“The new rules are based on recommendations which were put to the BHA Board by a Steering Group which consisted of expertise drawn from across the racing industry and beyond, including prominent jockeys and trainers.
“They were unanimous in agreement that changes must be made to ensure more judicious use of the whip for encouragement, and improve the perception of whip use.
“The changes include a reduction of one in the permitted number of uses of the whip to six in a Flat race and seven in a jumps race, and increased penalties for offences. Jockeys consulted were in agreement that increased penalties were necessary.
“Similar changes were recently announced in France, where the thresholds for acceptable use are already lower than in British racing.
“This is not about appeasing those who wish to see the sport banned, or attempting to convert them. It is instead about ensuring that racing takes control of its own destiny, and ensuring that we safeguard the sport against changing perceptions amongst its future audiences.
“Racing has so much to be proud about. We all look forward to celebrating the magnificent horses and people and the wonderful stories that our sport produces in the coming weeks.”
Brant Dunshea, the BHA’s chief regulatory officer, added: “Jockeys have had more than four weeks to adapt to the new rules through the bedding-in period. As the jockeys themselves have stated, it is now up to them to ensure that they ride within the new rules.”
Dunshea said that disqualification is “the ultimate deterrent for overuse of the whip” and that the first case “sends a clear message” to riders.
He said: “There is simply no excuse for using the whip four or more times above the permitted level. It was always likely that the disqualification rule would need to be invoked in the early stages of the implementation of the new rules.
“We hope that this sends a clear message to all jockeys and reinforces this deterrent effect.”
Later, Connections of Lunar Discovery made the announcement that they would not be appealing the exclusion.
A statement issued through the National Trainers Federation on behalf of trainer James Moffatt, owners Kevin and Anne Glastonbury and Jones said: “It is obviously very disappointing and upsetting for all of us here to see that Lunar Discovery was disqualified from her second-placed finish last week.
“However, it was understood by the sport that in tightening up the rules and penalties around whip use, we would see a reduced level of discretion as to what constituted an offence.
“On this basis, despite being firmly of the view that there was no detrimental impact at all on our horse, we are accepting of the outcome that the Review panel has reached. Lunar Discovery was in excellent health after her race and will be ready to go again in due course, where she will continue to be ridden by Charlotte, after she has served her first ever whip ban.”
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