The BHA has made clear its determination to bring to an end the confusion that surrounded major changes concerning the use of the whip a couple of years ago, after a whole raft of jockeys were hit with suspensions. By and large they have succeeded, and individual infringements continue to be dealt with by local racecourse stewards. The Disciplinary Panel is for serious stuff, with the BHA acting swiftly when it is called into action.
Jason Maguire was appearing following a race that took place at Cartmel on Monday this week in which he struck his mount, Atlanta Falcon, ten times after the final fence, once over the trigger number where the stewards have to consider an enquiry. The length of the run in at Cartmel was critical in determining whether he had overdone things; at around half a mile it is, I think, the longest on any racecourse in Britain.
The panel watched a video of the race, and whilst confirming the number of times Maguire used his whip, took the view that the first two strokes, applied in the first furlong after the fence, were used to keep Atlanta Falcon in contention. The pair finished in second place in the race. As a result, Maguire had not contravened the rules, and escaped a ban of three weeks or so.
The jockey said afterwards, “Thankfully, the panel took account that I gave Atlanta Falcon enough time to respond. I have had over 400 rides in six months and think I would have been looking at something just below 21 days if things hadn’t gone my way.”Flat jockey Billy Cray might be wondering why he doesn’t ply his trade over the jumps after the same three people sitting on the panel showed him no mercy following his referral under exactly the same piece of the regulations as Maguire. The race under scrutiny in Cray’s case took place at Chester earlier this month. Ironically, that course has just about the shortest run in from the final bend of anywhere. He was on Dr Red Eye, who finished third, beaten half a length and a head.
Cray admitted he had overdone it, but looking at the race video, you can understand why, as he was still in front with 100 yards to go. Nevertheless, there were no grounds for the stewards to use their discretion, and as it was his fifth offence in the last six months, he found himself in front of the panel.
They were of the view that this offence on its own would have merited a two day suspension, but as Cray was there as a serial offender, he was stood down for 28 days during August, although eight are deferred and will only come into play if he offends again before 31 October.