06 Feb 2003 Pre-2014 Releases

Interference Rules Simplified and Harmonised With the Irish

Published: 6 February 2003

From 1st May 2003, a revised interference rule will be in place which reduces the number of categories of offence from six to three. The three categories are Dangerous riding, Careless riding and Improper riding. Rule changes being introduced in Ireland will mean that incidents of interference will be subject to the same treatment in both countries.

The most important aspect of the change, from the British perspective, is the removal of the irresponsible riding category. From May 1st riding offences which cause interference that is not deemed ‘serious’ will be considered to be ‘Careless’ on the part of the rider, for which he will receive a caution or an appropriate suspension.

Consequently, the threshold level at which a horse and rider face automatic demotion has been raised, thereby reducing the potential for a winner on merit to lose a race.

Only in the event of the rider causing serious interference either through intent or recklessness, offences which will now be deemed ‘Dangerous’ riding, would a horse be automatically disqualified. The potential for a horse to be demoted because it has improved its placing as a result of interference has not changed.

Malcolm Wallace, the Jockey Club’s Director of Regulation, said:

“The initial catalyst for reviewing Rule 153 was to seek a way of harmonising the British and Irish rules on interference. However, in merging the two sets of rules a number of other benefits have transpired.

“Firstly, because the new rule is simpler it should enable the results of enquiries to be announced quicker. Currently, time is taken up while panels decide whether or not a manoeuvre has taken place and the precise category of interference. Under the revised rule, the only options they will have are Accidental, Careless or Dangerous, or in some cases Improper.

“Secondly, I believe the changes make the interference rules considerably easier to understand and to explain to the participants and the public. Simpler rules should also serve to increase the consistency of decision making.

“Finally, I’m delighted that we have achieved harmonisation on this matter with another major European turf authority. Over the past year we have worked closely with the Irish Turf Club in a bid to harmonise our procedures, and both sides have made changes to their respective rules. The British and Irish host each others’ horses and jockeys on an increasingly regular basis, with similar racecourses and stewarding systems, so it makes good sense that we share the same interference rule.

“We already share with the Irish the fundamental principle that the first horse past the post gets the benefit of the doubt when deciding whether a horse should be demoted or not. In this, we differ from the continental authorities who favour the sufferer. Having said that, these changes will bring our rules closer to those in place worldwide, though not I believe at the expense of compromising the safety and welfare of horse and rider, which remains the primary reason for policing interference. Any riding offence which puts other riders or horse at risk will be punished with appropriately lengthy suspensions.

“My thanks go to Christopher Hodgson, who stood down as Disciplinary Steward at the end of last year, for his hard work in assisting change in this matter, as well as our colleagues at the Turf Club in Ireland. British racing has come a long way in a relatively short time with regard to the rules on interference. It was only ten years ago that every riding offence was accompanied by automatic demotion.”

6th February 2003

Notes for Editors:

1. The timing of the introduction of revised rule coincides with the conclusion of the stewards’ seminars at which the forthcoming changes will be explained.

2. Videos showing examples of the revised categories of interference with accompanying explanations will be sent to all Flat jockeys. This year’s jockeys’ seminars are for Jump jockeys and will be held in the spring. The new rules will be among the topics discussed at those seminars.

3. The new interference rule reduces the number of interference categories from seven to four:

previously: Intentional, Reckless, Irresponsible – Major, Irresponsible – Minor, Careless, Accidental and Improper riding
from May: Dangerous, Careless, Accidental and Improper riding

4. The Definitions of the categories are as follows:

(i) Dangerous

a rider is guilty of dangerous riding if he causes serious interference by:

(a) purposely interfering with another horse or rider or
(b) riding in a way which is far below that of a competent and careful rider and where it would be obvious to such a competent and careful rider that riding in that way was likely to endanger the safety of a horse or rider

For dangerous riding the rider must cause serious interference

(ii) Careless

A rider is guilty of careless riding if he fails to take reasonable steps to avoid causing interference or causes interference by inattention or misjudgement, including when manoeuvring for position.

For careless riding the rider usually causes interference of a less serious nature by failing to take corrective action or misjudgement, including a manoeuvre.

(iii) Improper Riding

Improper riding, whether mounted or dismounted, covers cases of improper use of the whip or striking other Riders or horses and may also include other forms of misconduct in the course of riding, such as riding that would be dangerous as defined above but for the fact that it did not cause serious interference.

For the interference to be deemed accidental, with no offence committed, the rider will have been taking reasonable steps to prevent the interference from occurring or the interference would have been due to circumstances beyond the rider’s control. E.g. horse hangs without warning, horse hangs despite rider’s attempts to prevent it, horse runs down an obstacle without warning.

5. The penalties for the three riding offences, dangerous, careless and improper, are as follows:

Horse automatically disqualified. Rider 10-21 days and riding fee forfeited, or refer

Consider placings as for accidental – demotion only if the horse causing the interference has improved its placing as a result of the interference. Rider caution to 9 days, depending on seriousness of the interference caused and taking into account the standard of riding and its effect.

Improper Riding
Consider placings as for accidental. Caution to 21 days, depending on seriousness of the offence.