Top jockey Ruby Walsh has hit out at the British Horseracing Authority’s new rules regarding the use of the whip, which come into effect on October 10.
Under the new rules a jockey can now only hit a horse seven times in a flat race and eight over jumps. Also, the jockey will only be able to use his whip five times after the last obstacle or, in flat races, inside the final furlong.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Walsh said the rules would be “extremely difficult” for jockeys to adhere to:
“I am under no illusions and will have to adhere to them, on the basis the penalties for not obeying are so severe.
“But it will not be easy and how is a jockey expected to count the number of times he has hit a horse in the heat of battle?
“You might have to give a horse a few flicks between the last two obstacles and then you have to remember after the last how many you’ve left.
“I’m not a dunce and will count from one to million for you sitting in a car. Riding a horse, however, is not like sitting at a desk and it is going to be extremely difficult staying within the rules.
“What worries me is that I will have to accept defeat when I could be doing something about it. As a competitive sports person that saddens me. It goes against my whole ethos as a jockey that such is going to be the case.
“All my competitive instincts tell me this is wrong. When I am riding I use my legs and my body and only go for the whip as a last resort.
“But it is inevitable that these rules will be broken, not intentionally, but they will be broken.
“I know they are under fierce pressure in England and, probably, something had to be done, but I don’t think this is the answer.
“The stipendiary stewards in both Britain and Ireland are first class and well capable of legislating on use of the whip which is over-the-top and unacceptable. I certainly hope the Irish authorities do not follow suit.”