Tuesday, 21 February 2012

BHA's whip ammendments should appease the majority .........

The BHA announced on Tuesday changes to the whip rule that should go some way to appeasing jockeys. Importantly, the governing body revealed that a jockey going over the allotted number of strokes allowed, 7 on flat and 8 over jumps, will not automatically result in a suspension.

Instead, each case will be judged on it's own merits. Also there will no multiplication of bans, which resulted in Robert Winston (22 days), Nicky MacKay (10) and Fergus Sweeney (14) becoming victims because it was their second offence within six months.

It means, for instance, MacKay's ban will automatically be reduced to four days from 10 and, with each case now judged on it's own merits, it's possible he could have it quashed completely if the panel deem, as they should, it was done in the cause of safety.

You now have to have five offences at the lower level and four at the higher level before a jockey is referred to the Disciplinary Panel. This is a major advancement.

Jockeys won't lose their riding fee and loss of prize money is expected to be on a sliding scale - another major step forward. People may have been sceptical when Paul Bittar became Chief Executive of the BHA but he has acknowledged something had to be done.

It isn't implausible to suggest that if, say, Ruby Walsh incurred a whip ban at the Cheltenham Festival for hitting a horse nine times, which would have triggered an automatic ban, it could have seen a jockey walkout. There was a strong possibility.

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