Paul Struthers, widely seen as having carried the can for the Bloody Hopeless Amateurs over the whip rules mishandling, is back in racing. On Monday night he was invited to swap sides and take up post as the new Chief Executive for the Professional Jockeys' Association.
Struthers said he was delighted to be offered the post and said he would have applied for the job even if he had remained in his former role. He was quick to flag up his admiration for jockeys and the risks they take. "You're representing an incredibly hard-working and dedicated group of men and women. How many other sports people followed around by an ambulance every time they go to work? The risks they take can only command your respect."
Joint presidents of the PJA, jockeys Steve Drowne and Tony McCoy issued a statement welcoming the appointment. "Although we are disappointed to lose the services of Kevin Darley, the PJA is very pleased to have been able to appoint as his successor someone of the high calibre of Paul Struthers, who possesses broad and excellent experience of racing gained over many years working in the industry."
The BHA also congratulated Struthers on his new role saying, "The relationship between the regulator and jockeys is obviously an important one, covering a broad range of issues, and we are looking forward to working with the PJA under Paul's leadership."
Since Struthers left his post as head of communications at the BHA, that organisation has failed to stem a stream of adverse comment about both the new whip rules themselves, and the way in which some of the suspensions imposed on jockeys who have broken them have been handled.
Struthers cannot fail to see the irony of now having to challenge the very issues which only a couple of months ago he was seeking to defend. He says that he has his own ideas about possible changes, but he wants to ensure he is representing the views of jockeys. "It is important to get a clear mandate from the PJA members. Jockeys deserve huge credit for their Herculean efforts over the past couple of months, changing to a completely different set of rules overnight. I don't officially start working until February 13, but I will be getting out on the racecourse in the meantime to talk to jockeys and get a clear picture of what changes they feel are needed."
With a new person leading the discussions for both the PJA and the BHA we can only hope that some of the issues intentions clearly existed during earlier negotiations can be put to one side and some common sense brought to bear on a subject that has done so much damage to racing.