Horse racing chiefs to review new whip rules

Richard Hughes, Ryan Moore, Frankie Dettori Dettori and McCoy arrive for talks
Hughes, Moore, Dettori and McCoy arrive for talks

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) says it will review the sport's new controversial whip rules.

A review group will report back by the end of the week, but meanwhile the current rules remain in place.

The move comes after discussions with a delegation of riders and the Professional Jockeys' Association (PJA) on Monday.

PJA chief executive Kevin Darley said in a statement that the association wants a resolution to be found quickly.

"We will continue to work closely with the British Horseracing Authority in the coming days to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion," he said after accompanying a delegation including Frankie Dettori, Tony McCoy, Ryan Moore and Richard Hughes to the meeting

"We will await the authority's response to the very realistic and sensible proposals that the jockeys made to the BHA board.

"However, time is pressing and amendments to the new rules that jockeys believe are workable need to be adopted very soon.

"As far as jockeys are concerned the current situation cannot continue, and we have made that clear to the BHA. A resolution to this issue must be found."

The dispute over tougher regulations and penalties nearly led to a strike on Monday.

A BHA statement said: "The authority's review of the use of the whip in horse racing was undertaken over 10 months by an expert working group involving widespread consultation and evidence gathering from stakeholders across the sport and more widely including animal welfare organisations and the general public.

"The board has today reiterated its endorsement of the principles behind the review. The new rules, adopted by the authority, received widespread support from across the industry.

"Any change to regulations must be carefully considered and subject to due process. This means that appropriate evidence needs to be reviewed and there will need to be engagement with other relevant parties.

"The board has directed the review group to undertake this process and report back by no later than the end of the week.

"Until any changes are made, the current rules will continue to apply."

Hughes relinquished his licence on Thursday in protest at new rules which had seen him banned twice in the space of four days.

The new guidelines, introduced on 10 October, mean the air-cushioned whip can only be used a maximum of seven times in a flat race and eight times over the jumps - roughly half the previous limit.

Jockeys broadly accepted the introduction of stricter regulations but many are unhappy with the stipulation that the whip can only be used five times in the final furlong or after the last jump, plus severe penalties which include losing prize money.

On Saturday, Christophe Soumillon was banned for five days and forfeited £50,000 after using his whip one more time than the maximum in the last furlong when guiding Cirrus Des Aigles to victory in Britain's richest race, the £1.3m Champion Stakes at Ascot.

Soumillon's British agent Shippy Ellis said the Belgian jockey has lodged an appeal against the punishments.

"He has received widespread support from around the world, particularly from France, Canada and Hong Kong," said Ellis.

Meanwhile, five jockeys were hit with bans on Monday afternoon for breaching the whip rules.

Apprentice Kieren Fox, who fell foul on the first day of the new regime, was given a further 10-day suspension at Windsor.

At Pontefract Micky Fenton received a seven-day ban, while Joe Fanning and Adrian Nicholls got five each while Jack Quinlan was handed a seven-day ban at Plumpton.