DANNY Mullins cannot understand why British racing has taken further steps to restrict the use of the whip in 2023.
The new rules, which were signalled in July this year following an industry-wide consultation process, include restricting whip use to the backhand and are designed to foster “more considered use, consistency of stewarding and stiffer penalties for misuse”.
There are 20 new rules and policies regarding whip use and they will be initially introduced for jump racing from January 9th in a four-week ‘bedding in’ period. During this time jockeys will not be subject to new sanctions. The new rules will be fully implemented for jump racing by February 6th.
Flat racing will start a four-week bedding-in period on February 27th, with full implementation from March 27th.
Mullins said: “I think it’s definitely going to take some adjustment for myself and others, and the timing is not right, in my opinion. A better bedding-in period could have been found.
“Over the years we have had seen a lot of positive amendments to the rules but I don’t see the how this latest change is going to benefit the game. I’m lucky in that I use the whip in the backhand position sometimes already but I just don’t see how making that mandatory is going to help.”
Andrew Coonan, spokesperson for the Irish Jockeys Association, also has concerns. “Of course there will be difficulties in adjusting for our riders. I don’t believe the bedding-in period is sufficiently long and my general feeling is that the changes won’t stop here. The new rules allow for disqualification in races where the whip has been used four times or more above the permitted level. I can see that number coming down in time.
“I am very clear on this – disqualification is the wrong way to go. Punish the jockey if you must but not the owner or trainer.”
To address concerns raised by betting operators, any potential decisions regarding disqualification of runners for an egregious offence will be made by the whip review committee, away from the raceday, and will therefore not affect the outcome of a race for betting purposes.
It is anticipated that the review committee will meet once a week to consider sanctions from all races, most likely on a Tuesday.
KEY CHANGES TO BRITISH WHIP RULES