Jockey Feedback Leads to Further Whip Rule Amendments

The number of times a whip can be used has been further reduced | Sarah Andrew

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has made further adjustments to the revised whip rules to be implemented in Britain in the coming months, including scrapping the need for jockeys to use the whip solely backhand position. Instead, the threshold for the number of times the whip may be used per race has been reduced to six times on the Flat and seven times over jumps. Previously the limits had been set at seven and eight respectively.

Penalties for breaching this limit, and for other misuse offences such as using the whip above shoulder height or not giving a horse time to respond, will be further increased beyond the planned increases which were published in November.

Since that time jockeys have raised concerns over information which was not aired during the consultation or technical discussion phase of the latest whip review, prompting a meeting between representatives of the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) and the BHA board, with the latter insisting that the most recent amendments do not “reflect a dilution of the package of rule changes, but instead a method of achieving the same outcomes through a different approach”.

Another 19 recommendations and rule changes remain unchanged from the previous announcement. They include:

  • The introduction of disqualification as a penalty for use of the whip four times or more above the permitted level.
  • The introduction of a Whip Referral Committee which is responsible for evaluation of all rides and any necessary sanction or action, to increase consistency and drive ongoing improvement in riding standards.
  • The removal of “discretion” being applied by the stewards around interpretation of whip offences. Therefore every use of the whip will count towards the thresholds for use, unless it has been used clearly and unequivocally for safety purposes. This will have the effect of further reducing whip use.
  • Increased penalties for offences, including doubled suspensions in major races.

In National Hunt racing, the new rules are set to come into force next Monday (January 9) but with a “bedding-in” period, during which jockeys will be asked to ride under the new rules but will not be subject to the adjusted penalties until February 6. In Flat racing, a “soft launch” commences on February 27, with full implementation of the new penalties from March 27.

“An extremely thorough consultation was carried out over the course of 2021 and 2022, followed by an extensive technical discussion phase after the publication of the recommendations in July,” said David Jones, chair of the BHA's Whip Consultation Steering Group.

 “Efforts were taken to listen to the views of jockeys from both codes, over many hours. This consultation has arguably been the most thorough undertaken by the BHA in relation to any specific regulatory reform in the past.

 “In order to ensure that this process was suitably rigorous we pushed back the planned autumn implementation date for new rules.

 “However, we are committed to listening to our participants, and when further views and information come to light very late in the day, and following the conclusion of that process, we were duty bound to consider it, and make representations to the BHA Board accordingly.”

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