Nicholls calls for the delaying of new whip regulations in response to Cobden’s ban for winning the ride.
Paul Nicholls, a multiple champion trainer, has proposed delaying the implementation of the new whip rules until after the major spring festivals.
After it was suggested that his stable jockey Harry Cobden would have received a 24-day ban for his winning ride on Il Ridoto at Cheltenham on Saturday, Nicholls took to social media to express his disapproval of the proposed new regulations.
The same was said of Sean Bowen, who rode Back On The Lash successfully in the Cross Country Chase and is currently second in the jockeys’ championship behind Brian Hughes.
The new regulations are scheduled to take effect on February 13. Jockeys are currently riding during a “bedding-in” period during which the current regulations apply for the purposes of sanctions; however, riders are being informed of whether they would have violated the new rules.
Nicholls tweeted: “Two fantastic top rides. How they can get bans is beyond me. Cobden excelled on Il Ridoto. This all needs postponing until after the spring festivals otherwise this is all going to be a disaster for the sport. For once common sense needs to prevail.”
On Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast, Cobden said that he had broken the new rule about using the whip above shoulder height.
He said: “I went into the stewards’ room and they froze the images of the replay where they thought my hand was over shoulder height on three of the hits.
“You could clearly see that I was in breach of the rule, my hand was ever so slightly over and I was told that I would get eight days for each hit. Because it was a class one race that it was why it was eight days rather than four, so I would have come out of the race with a 24-day ban.”
He went on: “I’ve always ridden like this, I’ve never been called in for over shoulder height before. Before Saturday I hadn’t ridden for 12 days, so had missed a lot of the bedding-in period.
“It’s difficult, we’re all trying but I think that rule definitely needs to be tweaked.
“We’re happy with the penalty structure, the numbers we are fine with, the only rule we have an issue with, and the one that keeps popping up, is the over shoulder height, so I think we need to change the wording or do something about it.
“I don’t think lessening the penalties will work as jockeys will still get banned. Somehow we need to change the wording of that rule. If it looks forceful then fair enough, but if you are riding a horse like I rode Il Ridoto, nobody sees anything wrong with that and I think it’s unfair to get 24 days for one ride.
“If your arm is straight up then that is not right, but if your hand is a couple of inches above and it doesn’t look out of place, I don’t think it should be a problem.”
The British Horseracing Authority, on the other hand, stressed that the Whip Review Committee, which will meet on a regular basis on Tuesdays, is in charge of determining the length of the bans; the stewards are not in charge of that.
On its Twitter account, the said: “The BHA is aware of information being posted on social media speculating about potential ‘suspensions’ under the new whip rules. Please note this information is not accurate as the Whip Review Committee have not yet met this week to consider the rides in the period 16 – 29 Jan.
“Also, a reminder that no suspensions are being imposed at present. The purpose of the bedding-in period is to provide riders with information as to where adaptations to riding style might be needed ahead of full implementation of the rules on 13 Feb.”
A previously scheduled meeting will take place in the coming days between the BHA, Professional Jockeys Association and trainers and jockeys as part of the ongoing discussion surrounding the new rules, but not on the back of the fallout of last weekend’s racing.
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