Scudamore and McDonald hail revised whip rules

Leading jockeys Tom Scudamore and PJ McDonald have given their backing to the new whip regulations announced by the British Horseracing Authority.

The ruling body on Tuesday confirmed the Whip Consultation Steering Group had submitted 20 recommendations following an extensive process, including significant changes to the penalties received by riders who contravene the rules.

The permitted level for use of the whip will remain at seven on the Flat and eight over jumps, with encouragement to be limited to the backhand position only.

The penalty structure for use of the whip above the permitted level in major races will be revised as a doubling of the suspensions for the same offence in standard races, while winners are set to be disqualified if the whip is used four or more times above the permitted level.

Tom Scudamore has endorsed the changes to whip regulations
Tom Scudamore has endorsed the changes to whip regulations (Mike Egerton/PA)

Scudamore, a multiple Grade One and Cheltenham Festival-winning rider, is a member of the Steering Group along with McDonald, and feels the proposed changes will result in “visibly improved racing”.

He said: “I was pleased that my fellow jockey PJ McDonald and I were able to input into this process.

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“The change to using the whip only in the backhand will be a significant one for many riders, and the revised penalties are certainly strict. However, I believe the increase in penalties will have the correct deterrent on those riding.

“When the whip is used in the backhand position the natural arc in which you use it will mean that it is more frequently landing in the right place with the appropriate amount of force.

“The result will be visibly improved racing, which has not lost the important benefits of being able to properly focus a horse at the end of a race, or when jumping over obstacles, which is what the padded ProCush whip is intended to be used for.”

On the use of the whip in the backhand position, Scudamore added: “It was something that I first saw in America during the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar this year. It was very successful there. I believe that the arc with the backhand means there is less emphasis on the horse in most cases and striking it in a better place and legal places form a perception point of view, as well, because of those two things it will look a lot neater and a lot tidier.

“I feel that with any sport, there has to be a line in the sand. If someone has finished second and stayed within the rules and someone has grossly misjudged them and won, then you are going to feel very hard done by. I also feel the emphasis as well will be on connections as a whole – owners, trainers and jockeys are going to be severely in trouble for misdemeanours like that, it brings the emphasis not just on jockeys but connections as well and there are shared responsibilities.

“As with any changes, there will be a bedding in period to allow for those changes. At the same time, we have to adjust and I think certainly in this case, the participants should see that it is for the benefit of the sport. From my own point of view, I have been riding for 20 years with the same style, and I will have to learn to adapt and that is all part of being a professional.”

Another recommendation is the development of a review panel, which is responsible for the evaluation of all rides and necessary sanction or action.

McDonald, who won the Scottish Grand National over jumps before establishing himself as a leading Flat jockey and is the joint president of the Professional Jockeys Association, views the move as a positive step.

He said: “While as jockeys we would prefer not to have seen penalties for whip offences significantly increased, we also have to accept that steps needed to be taken to prevent breaches of the whip rules.

“I am pleased that the introduction of the review panel will increase consistency of officiating, and focus not only on penalties but also improving standards of riding.

“The introduction of disqualification for certain offences is a major step, but I think we all share the same hope and expectation which is that it is a rule that will rarely, if ever, need to be used as it will serve as a significant deterrent to jockeys using the whip too frequently.”

Jockey Luke Morris
Jockey Luke Morris (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Group One winner Luke Morris told Sky Sports Racing: “The Steering Group have had a long time and there are a lot of experts on the panel. They’ve done the best they could for everyone, when it comes in, probably at the end of November, at the time we’ll have to work on what it is.

“When you’re competing you want to know that the guy you’re competing with isn’t going to completely break the rules. It’s good that it’s at a level where people can’t take the mickey out of the rules, I think that’s a good thing.

“I’m not too sure what the real difference was between moving from the forehand to the backhand, I don’t think there’s much difference in force. We’ll have to work on it and hopefully it’ll create a better understanding.”

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