02 February 2023

BHA to examine application of guidance for new whip rules

02 February 2023

The British Horseracing Authority is examining how the guidance around the new whip rules is being applied following further outcry over the imminent changes to the regulations.

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls urged the BHA to consider delaying implementation of the new rules – which are due to take full effect on February 13 in the National Hunt sphere – after it was suggested his stable jockey Harry Cobden could have been banned for 24 days for his winning ride on Il Ridoto at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Fellow jumps rider Sean Quinlan also hit out at the revised regulations on Sunday, calling for further discussion around the directive concerning the whip being used above shoulder height.

The BHA had initially proposed to prohibit the use of the whip in the forehand position – but reversed that decision following discussions after objections from jockeys, instead opting to cut permitted use of the whip to six and seven strikes in Flat and jump races respectively, whilst also toughening up the penalty structure.

Using the whip above shoulder height will incur a four-day ban when the rules are properly introduced, with a soft launch currently in place and riders advised of what would constitute future breaches and what penalty they would have been given.

The ‘bedding-in period’ began on January 9, with the first week producing 44 referrals to the whip review committee, which will be responsible for handing out suspensions under the new system, while numbers for subsequent weeks have not been published.

Although underlining it is not considering altering specific rules or guidance, “the manner in which the rules and guidance are being applied” both by raceday stewards and the committee is being reviewed by the BHA.

We are not looking at changes to the specific rules or guidance, but instead how the guidance is being applied

A spokesperson said: “The purpose of the bedding-in period is to identify any practical considerations regarding the new rules and guidance, allow officials to familiarise themselves with the rules and guidance, and jockeys to identify areas where they may be required to adapt their technique ahead of implementation.

“As part of this process we are currently assessing some elements of the existing procedures, which includes the manner in which the rules and guidance are being applied on raceday, and by the whip review committee.

“We are not looking at changes to the specific rules or guidance, but instead how the guidance is being applied. We continue to urge riders to use the bedding-in period to make any necessary adjustments to their riding style in line with the guidance.”

The new rules will be fully implemented on the Flat from March 27, with a soft launch from February 27.

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