Whip rules prevent Tony McCoy from riding to 'limit'

By John SinnottBBC Sport

Champion jump jockey Tony McCoy says the sport's new whip rules have forced him to change his riding style.

He will serve a five-day ban later this month after falling foul of the rules for the first time at Ffos Las.

"If you've incurred a penalty like that then it will double the next time," McCoy, 37, told BBC Sport.

"Jockeys want to ride and test themselves, but you can't really test yourself to the limit anymore - it's too dangerous."

Last month, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) agreed to amend controversial new regulations on whip use.

Restrictions in Flat racing's final furlong and after the final hurdle in National Hunt were lifted, whereby Flat riders may now use their seven permitted strikes at any point in a race, while jump jockeys may use eight.

But the issue continues to prove divisive. Two potential jockey strikes have been narrowly averted and both McCoy and Ruby Walsh have already been given five-day bans.

Last week, Walsh had an appeal against a five-day suspension dismissed and both he and McCoy would face a 10-day ban if they committed the same offence.

"It's about keeping the sport competitive without having to think about counting what you are doing," said McCoy.

"It adds a whole dimension to riding because you have a lot of things to think about."

While admitting the whip debate had brought unwanted publicity for horse racing, McCoy was adamant that the rule change was too punitive for "minor breaches" of the regulations.

"It's fine for me and Frankie Dettori, but there are lots of jockeys who are barely making a living. For them to have a five-day suspension for a very minor breach and not earn money for nearly a week is quite a penalty."

McCoy, who is the 2010 BBC Sports Personality of the Year, suggested a way forward in the impasse would be for more stringent punishments for jockeys who genuinely abuse the rule.

"If you go one over it should be a one-day ban, but if it is five over let it be 15 days," added McCoy, who was speaking at the launch of his autobiography at racing sponsor Thomas Pink's Jermyn Street shop in London.

"Maybe that should have been done in hindsight.

"I'm all for jockeys abusing horses getting huge penalties because that is not what we want to see."

On Sunday at Ffos Las, McCoy was deemed to have used his whip once more than the allotted eight times on Jonjo O'Neill's Caddie Master, runner-up in a handicap hurdle.

The Northern Irishman will serve his suspension between 20-24 November.