Whip rules amended by British Horseracing Authority

By Joe WilsonBBC Sport

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has agreed to amend controversial new regulations on use of the whip.

Restrictions in Flat racing's final furlong and after the final hurdle in National Hunt have been lifted.

Flat riders may now use their seven permitted strikes at any point in a race, while jump jockeys may use eight.

Some riders are still unhappy with the new penalties, but the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) has called on its members not to take strike action.

PJA chief executive Kevin Darley said: "The PJA is advising its members to work within the rules. We are not happy with aspects of those rules, but we will work with the BHA on the issues that concern us.

"There are still serious concerns about the level of penalties for minor infringements of the rules. A jockey could still be in breach of the rules and face a heavy penalty for using the whip in the best interests of safety and horsemanship. There are also concerns among jockeys about the way that the rules may impact differently on Flat and jump racing.

"We are pleased that the BHA will constantly monitor the impact and the effectiveness of the rules, and jockeys will wish to be fully consulted in that process."

In another amendment to the regulations, jockeys will now not lose riding fees if suspended for whip offences and will only forfeit their percentage of prize money if banned for seven days or more.

The ruling comes into force immediately and will be applied retrospectively.

Champion jockey Paul Hanagan was pleased with the changes, but hoped more could yet be done.

"I was made up they did away with the five hits inside the final furlong and gave us our riding fee back, but I still think the severity of a five-day ban [for over-use of the whip] is too much," he said.

Flat jockey Adrian Nicholls, who was given a five-day ban at Pontefract on Monday for whip offences, said: "I'm glad that common sense has prevailed. I thought they were very harsh rules. I think the new rules are better for racing.

"The amount of times was never an issue with me, it was more the hefty bans and the financial penalties. Hopefully now we can put this behind us and concentrate on the good bits about racing."

Under the amended rules if jockeys exceed the allowance by one stroke they will be suspended, and if it is more than that they will lose any prize money.

Christophe Soumillon who rode Cirrus Des Aigles to victory in the Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday is in line to have his prize money reinstated as he broke the rules by just one strike.

Soumillon had been stripped of £52,000 and suspended for five days.

Richard Hughes, who last week gave up his riding licence in protest at the new whip regulations after receiving a second ban in the space of four days, will have his punishment rescinded by the BHA.

Hughes described the changes as, on balance, a ''move forward'' and told Racing UK he was ''happy with the change and applauded the BHA". However, he added that the financial penalties were still ''severe".