Common sense appears to be on the verge of prevailing in the heated debate over the BHA’s changes to penalties for excessive use of the whip with the governing body of British racing bowing to pressure from within the industry to reduce the suspension periods for jockeys deemed to have used their whips more than the recently introduced guidelines permit, writes Elliot Slater.
Following a massive number of suspensions of jockeys whose use of the whip would almost certainly not have drawn a second glance prior to the BHA reviewing the rules as a knee-jerk reaction to pressure from organisations outside the sport, the threat of riders actually going on strike began to loom large on the horizon.
Hastily returning to the rule book, the BHA has now re-amended the rules and has reduced a number of the penalties, with multiple champion jockey Tony McCoy being amongst those set to benefit from the retrospective judgment. Those looking at the Grand National betting online will be keeping an eye on things.
McCoy received a five-day suspension last month for using his whip above the new guideline limit, but that penalty has now been reduced to just two days. All other riders to have been penalised during the same period from October 21 will also have their penalties adjusted down.
The champion jockey had initially been amongst the most vocal supporters of the rule change but had become increasingly frustrated by the lack of interpretation allowed by local stewards and the ‘over-the-top’ punishments that were being dished out on a daily basis that have adversely affected the income of many jockeys across the spectrum. Anyone looking at a Grand National free bets offer will want to see things sorted out.
No rider, owner, or trainer wants to see a horse being beaten up on the racetrack and anyone that goes overboard should be severely punished, but in limiting jockeys to just seven strikes of the whip, (many that might be used for correctional or guidance purposes), there was a belief that jockeys were losing races that would previously have been won and that, in some cases, both the safety of jockeys and horses was being jeopardised by the inability (under the rule change) for the course of a horse to be corrected without penalty.