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BHA defends move to review whip penalties - By Tom Kerr & Andrew King

Posted on - 14 Oct 2011

BHA defends move to review whip penalties
BY TOM KERR & ANDREW KING
 
PAUL ROY has said he would have been "pig-headed" not to listen to complaints about the punishments handed down to riders in breach of tough new whip rules.
  
The BHA chairman was speaking after the association released a statement on Thursday afternoon stating that the group behind the stringent new regulations would meet to consider a submission from the Professional Jockeys' Association raising concerns about the changes.
 
The statement came a day after Tim Morris, the BHA's director of equine science and welfare, was quoted in Thursday's Racing Post as saying the new regulations would not be reconsidered.

Speaking on Thursday night, Roy said: "There have been active discussions over the last 24 hours, if not the last 48 hours, and a lot of dialogue has been taking place.

"I have had a lot of conversations with [PJA chief executive] Kevin Darley and individual jockeys, and [BHA director of raceday operations and regulations] Jamie Stier has also had numerousdiscussions and meetings, and earlier this week there was also a meeting with Kevin Darley.

"We've made it very clear that we think that we've brought in some appropriate measures here after a very wide-spread consultation, but at the end of the day if there are some very strong views that have arisen in the last three or four days, I am not going to be pig-headed enough to say we won't listen."

In the earlier statement, Roy backed the new whip regulations but said the review group who came up with them would meet soon to consider complaints - particularly in relation to the punishments jockeys receive for whip offences.

He said: "We remain clear and confident in the review and its findings and are encouraged that the PJA is generally supportive of the principles behind the new rules and the need for compliance with them.

"However, they have raised certain concerns, particularly in relation to the penalty structure, and we expect to receive further formal written submissions from them shortly.

"We will therefore reconvene the review group working party and they will begin to consider the PJA's submission as soon as possible after it is received."

The new rules, introduced on Monday, limit the number of times a jockey can strike a horse to seven on the Flat and eight over jumps. On top of the minimum punishment being increased to a five-day ban from a caution, offenders also lose their riding fee and share of prize-money from the ride.

The regulations have provoked a storm of controversy among jockeys, who have complained about both the severity of punishment and lack of consultation prior to the rule change.
 
Harry Skelton earlier became the first jump jockey to be banned under the new guidelines after being found guilty of using his whip with excessive frequency at Wincanton.

The stewards looked into Skelton's ride onEl Diego, runner-up in the 3m1½f handicap chase, and found the rider had hit the seven-year-old nine times, which is one over the permitted eight.

Skelton was suspended for five days - October 27-31 inclusive - and also forfeited his riding fee and percentage of prize-money.

He said: "I broke the rules - it's as simple as that. I was trying my hardest on a tricky horse andhis owner, trainer and I miscounted."

Stewards secretary Paul Barton said: "Harry Skelton used his whip with excessive frequency on his mount in that he hit the horse nine times and that is one outside of the new whip rules."

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