19 Jan 1998 Pre-2014 Releases

Changes to Rule 151 and Rule 153

Published: 19 January 1998

The Jockey Club today announced some important amendments to both Rule 151, regarding horses not running on their merits, and Rule 153, which deals with interference. The changes will come into effect from the start of the Flat Turf season on 26th March 1998.

Commenting on the changes, Christopher Hall, Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee, said: “It is the Jockey Club’s duty to ensure that racing is run as fairly and safely as possible. I believe that these changes will provide both racecourse stewards and the Disciplinary Committee with the tools to regulate the sport more effectively, and in a manner that will continue to have the confidence of both the sport’s participants and punters.”

Notes for Editors

1. Malcolm Wallace, Jockey Club Director of Regulation, will be available to talk to journalists on the rule changes to Rules 151 and 153 today. Please contact through the Jockey Club Press Office.

2. Details of the Changes to Rules 151 and 153 are set out below.

Rule 151 – Horses not being run on their merits

In recent years the Jockey Club has devoted considerable time and effort to tackling the problem of horses not running on their merits. Largely due to greater awareness, better training and improved technology the number of cases found to be in breach of Rule 151 increased quite significantly in 1997. Fortunately the number of offences is still small, reflecting the fact that standards are generally reasonably high.

Against this background, the Jockey Club’s Disciplinary Committee considers that rather than just increasing the existing penalties, the introduction of new procedures and measures to cover particular circumstances may act as a more effective deterrent.

From the start of the Flat Turf season when a horse wins a handicap or rating related race without having previously been placed (in the first four), an enquiry will be held automatically. The racecourse stewards will merely note what is said and forward the comments of the connections to Portman Square so that the riding of the horse in its earlier races can be reviewed in conjunction with the enquiry’s evidence.

It is anticipated that in the majority of instances there will be no case to answer and no further action will be necessary. However, if it appears that the horse had been ridden in its earlier races to gain a favourable rating the case will be referred to the Disciplinary Committee for them to hold an enquiry. Other cases of marked improvement will be dealt with as they have in the past, i.e referred to Portman Square for further investigation.

Another change is the addition of a new sub-rule to Rule 151 which places the onus on the trainer to prove that he is also not in breach when a rider has been found in breach of the Rule. Under the revised Rule racecourse stewards will believe that the jockey was riding to instructions unless the trainer can satisfy them otherwise.

The recommended penalties for breaches of Rule 151 with regards to giving a horse an easy race and schooling or conditioning in public will also be increased. The maximum penalty for giving a horse an easy race will be 21 days for a jockey and £3000 fine for a trainer, as well as an automatic 40 day suspension for the horse.

Measures have also been introduced which affect suspended horses. Once a horse has been suspended from running under Rule 151 it will not be qualified to be entered or start in any Class A or B handicaps until it has run in another Flat race in Great Britain. This will enable the handicapper and the punter to re-evalute the form of the horse in question when it is run on its merits.

Finally, there is also a change regarding the protocol for racecourse enquiries held under Rule 151. It is proposed that in future, rather than accept or record explanations, racecourse stewards will simply note the evidence and explanations put forward. This allows any enquiry held under Rule 151 to be subsequently re-opened more easily.

Christopher Hall, the Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee said yesterday: “There is no doubt that in recent years we have made progress with the problem of non-triers. We have spent a long time examining the rule and consider it should evolve still further. Consequently, we have decided to introduce some amendments to it, changes that I see as being a natural progression. They will go a long way towards ensuring that racing’s integrity is maintained whilst also improving protection for punters.”

Rule 153 – Interference

In the summer of 1997 the Disciplinary Committee confirmed that it would be reviewing Rule 153. They were concerned that winners, sometimes easy and well backed, were being demoted after causing only minor interference because the rider was found guilty of Irresponsible riding. Furthermore, the Disciplinary Committee acknowledged that occasionally cases of Irresponsible riding were being downgraded to either Careless or even Accidental to enable the “best” horse to keep first place.

The Stewards of the Jockey Club are of the opinion that it is not in racing’s interests to have easy winners demoted following minor interference, and have approved the following alterations to Rule 153.

The current description of Irresponsible riding will be retained (see below). However, the Rule has been expanded to enable the placings to remain unaltered, if the interference was of a minor nature and had not improved the horse’s placing in relation to the horse or horses with which it interfered.

Once a rider has been found to be in breach of Irresponsible riding, the following questions will be asked in order to establish whether the interference could be considered minor:

(i) Was the nature of the incident such as to place in serious jeopardy the safety of any horse or rider?
(ii) Was the progress of any horse substantially impeded?
(iii) Was it necessary for any rider to take significant evasive action?
(iv) Was the interference sustained?
(v) Did the rider create a gap when one did not previously exist?
(vi) Was the interference at the Start?

If the answer to all of these questions is NO, then the interference is unlikely to have jeopardised the safety of any other horse or any rider and may be considered to be of a minor nature, thereby giving the stewards the power to leave the places unaltered. If the answer to any of the questions is YES, the horse responsible for causing interference will be placed behind those horses which suffered interference.

The penalties for a rider found guilty of Irresponsible riding will now be split into two levels; 3 – 5 days for a minor offence and 5 – 10 days for more serious cases of Irresponsible riding.

Christopher Hall said of the amendments to the interference rule: “Rule 153 exists to protect the safety of both horse and rider. Those who are responsible for incidents which endanger others will still be dealt with severely. Stewards take no pleasure in having to demote worthy winners and the proposed changes have evolved from the same line of thought which brought about the introduction of “Irresponsible” riding in 1994.”

The definitions of the different categories of interference are as follows:

A rider is guilty of:

intentional interference if he purposely interferes with any other horse or rider;
reckless riding if he shows no regard to the consequences of his actions and/or the risk to others and, in particular, the
danger of injury to or interference with, other horses or riders;