14 February 2023

Whip changes have not been handled well, says Skelton

14 February 2023

Dan Skelton hopes there are no whip bans at the Cheltenham Festival following the amendment of the new rules after widespread condemnation.

Speaking at a pre-Festival press day at his Alcester stable, the trainer said he felt the situation had been badly handled.

The changes to the whip rules have been subject to much discussion and amendment, with the final ruling limiting the number of strikes allowed and heightening penalties but allowing the forehand position – a method of using the whip that was initially set to be banned.

“I think they (whip rules) have been handled terribly and I don’t think anyone has got any pride in what’s happened,” the trainer said.

“It’s just been a bloody disaster to be quite honest, but what I hope comes out of this is that the general apathy to things like this has to come to an end.

“The only way it will come to an end is if there is genuine interaction and leadership. I think going forward we have a lot of lessons to learn from this whip situation.

“We’ve all got a part to play and like I say, we’ve got to drop the apathy and all work together because the industry desperately needs us.

“We know we’re under pressure – we’re even more under pressure this side of the Irish Sea than the other. We all need to come together and perhaps this is a catalyst for us all to do so and to all read off the same hymn sheet.”

Asked whether his brother and stable jockey Harry and Harry’s wife Bridget will need to adapt their riding to the new rules at Cheltenham, Skelton said: “That’s part of being a professional. There are new rules in place and if you adhere to the rules you will not get a ban.

“There is significantly more confidence that the rules that will be in play are able to be stuck to. I think with the original recommendations, once they were practised, it was obvious that people were really not going to be able to stick to them.

“The reality is how it should be implemented now is much more harmonious and everyone hopefully now understands it and gets on with it.

“Hopefully there are absolutely no whip bans whatsoever at Cheltenham and it works well. The rules are there now – that’s how many times you can use the stick. It’s quite clear.

“I have always been of the opinion on this that I stand behind the jockeys, not least because two of my family members are jockeys, but because they are the ones that are actually doing this.

“And if we properly and clearly empower them to stick to these rules, and they can do so, it’s going to benefit the sport.”

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