Jockey Club Announce Initiatives Relating to the Design and Use of the Whip
Published: 11 January 1999
At their meeting this morning the Stewards of the Jockey Club approved the proposal that jockeys found in breach of Instruction H9 (Use of the Whip) in major races be referred to the Disciplinary Committee rather than be suspended by racecourse stewards.
This idea is one of a package of measures the Jockey Club will introduce relating to the design and use of the whip, but is the only one that requires a change to the Rules.
Speaking on the subject, Christopher Spence, Senior Steward of the Jockey Club, said: “The Jockey Club has led the racing world in developing its whip instruction. This new package of measures clearly demonstrates that we remain committed to setting new standards aimed at safeguarding the welfare of the horse and improving the quality of riding. The Jockey Club has for many years stated that the whip should be used for safety, correction and encouragement only, and instruction H9 has evolved with this principal in mind.
“These initiatives only involve one rule change, namely increasing the length of suspension for jockeys found in breach in major races. Other measures centre around the education of jockeys and a re-design of their whips.”
In deciding what further initiatives should be introduced the Jockey Club consulted jockeys, trainers and owners, as well as the RSPCA and BEVA (British Equine Veterinary Association).
Although the current instruction undoubtedly encourages riders to use the whip sensibly, the Stewards of the Jockey Club asked the Disciplinary Committee to consider whether further initiatives needed to be introduced to counter the negative effect on racing produced by breaches of the instruction.
The sport suffers when suspensions are imposed at high profile meetings, and it does appear that sometimes jockeys ignore the whip instruction when riding in an important race. Consequently the Committee proposed a system, which was approved by the Stewards at their meeting this morning.
From 1st March, if a jockey is found to be in breach of the whip instruction in a major race he will be referred to the Disciplinary Committee. If the Disciplinary Committee also find the rider in breach they will suspend him for a minimum of 10 days. The suspension dates will normally take effect on consecutive days, like any other ban, however, the Disciplinary Committee will also have the flexibility to choose on which days the suspension should apply, although it anticipated that they will only use this power in exceptional circumstances.
The suspension period will not count towards the rider’s rolling twelve month total of suspended days. This is because the referral system was designed for the usual range of penalties rather than this one off higher penalty scheme.
The Committee considered removing a jockey’s winning percentage if found in breach in a major race, but they have discounted it for the time being. However, it will be kept in reserve if longer suspensions are not seen to be a sufficient deterrent.
The Committee also considered amending the current version of Instruction H9 with regards to restricting the way in which a whip is used, for example, restricting its use to the ‘backhand’ position only. However, on the advice of leading jockeys and instructors at the British Racing School this was discounted for the time being.
The Jockey Club sees education as the key to solving this problem in the long term. In conjunction with the British Horseracing Training Board, the Jockey Club is seeking to introduce continuation training for 7lb claimers at the British Racing School. There is no doubt that the young riders who have had remedial training at the Racing School have benefited from the experience and the aim is to teach all up and coming riders good practice.
The Jockey Club is also planning to introduce a series of races for apprentices in which the whip may only be carried and not used. A working party, under the chairmanship of Joey Newton, is in the process of working out the fine detail, but the proposal has the support of the NTF, JAGB and ROA and will be introduced during 1999.
In addition, the Jockey Club plans to introduce compulsory seminars for jockeys, although this will probably have to wait until the year 2000 as logistically it may not be possible to achieve that objective this year.
With regard to the design of the whip, the Jockey Club, in conjunction with the Animal Health Trust, intends to establish a benchmark or standard for what could be termed “equine friendly” whips. Work on this project is already underway and representatives from the Jockey Club, Animal Health Trust, RSPCA and BEVA will oversee the trials, for which the rig used to test whips at the Animal Health Trust previously will be re-activated. In addition, more recently developed equipment will also be used to measure the impact of different designs of whip.
Notes for Editors:
1. The major races which will warrant an automatic referral to the Disciplinary Committee if a rider is found in breach of Instruction H9 are all Group 1 and Grade 1 races, Flat races with a total prize fund of £140,000 or over and Jump races with a total prize fund of £80,000 or over. The 1999 non-Group or Grade 1 races are as follows:
Tote International Handicap (Ascot), Tote Ebor (York), £200,000 St Leger Yearling Sales (Doncaster), Comcast Teeside 2-y-o Trophy (Redcar), Murphy’s Handicap Chase, Tripleprint Handicap Chase (both Cheltenham), Hennessy Handicap Chase, Tote Gold Trophy (both Newbury), Greenalls Gold Cup (Haydock), Martell Grand National (Aintree) & Whitbread Gold Cup (Sandown).
2. In the event of a rider committing a breach of Instruction H9 in a major race that would otherwise only warrant a caution, i.e. for a technical offence and not for force or frequency, the racecourse stewards will not refer such a matter on to the Disciplinary Committee. Rather they will caution the rider themselves, or if he has already been either cautioned or suspended that season they will award an appropriate ban (2/3 days).
3. Previous whip bans for Group 1 races: since 1993 there have been a total of just under 150 Group 1 Flat races run in Britain, and in only seven of these races have jockeys received whip suspensions.