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Whip rules for jockeys eased by British Horseracing Authority 21/10/2011
Chris Cook
• BHA scrap five-hit rule in final furlong or after final jump
• Jockeys to lose prize-money share only in serious cases

The British Horseracing Authority has announced major changes to the controversial new whip regulations – including the removal of the five-hit rule inside the final furlong or after the last obstacle.

Jockeys have struggled to come to terms with the guidelines since their introduction on Monday last week, which allow no more than seven hits in a Flat race and eight over jumps.

While that number remains the same, the BHA has scrapped the rule which state jockeys are allowed to use their whip no more than five times inside the final furlong, or after the final obstacle in National Hunt races. Riders will now not lose their riding fee if suspended for a whip offence.

They will also only lose their percentage of prize money if their offence earns a ban of seven days or more, rather than the three days the rules originally stated.

A BHA statement said: "The board is committed to the highest standards of regulation in the sport, and ensuring that British horse racing continues to lead the way in matters of equine welfare.

"This is a sport not without its challenges, but they will always be outweighed by the sport's strengths. These challenges will best be met – and are being met – by finding a common purpose amongst the sport's participants, and by putting the sport first." The adjusted guidelines will come into force for all race meetings this Friday afternoon.

The BHA has also considered the impact on those jockeys who have received penalties that would not have been applied if the changes had been in place since the introduction of the new rules.

These penalties will be rescinded and appropriate measures have been taken, including the release of riding fees and prize-money, where applicable, and riding suspensions either annulled or adjusted.

The move means Christophe Soumillon will now receive the substantial percentage of the prize-money for winning the Qipco Champion Stakes on Cirrus Des Aigles at Ascot last Saturday. He had been stripped of £52,000 and suspended five days.

The alterations have been made after a highly controversial week under the new guidelines, which saw Richard Hughes and Kieren Fox found guilty of using the whip with excessive frequency on the first afternoon at Salisbury last Monday.

Hughes received a further suspension at Kempton on 12 October and immediately announced he would be handing in his riding licence until changes were made.

Hughes' decision fuelled rumours of a jockeys' strike, after which the BHA agreed to meet with representatives of the Professional Jockeys Association on Monday to discuss their grievances.

The original whip changes were announced by the BHA following a 10-month review. An outright ban on using the whip during races had come under discussion during the review.

Use of the whip was the subject of much scrutiny when Jason Maguire was found to have struck Ballabriggs 17 times when winning the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree in April. Maguire was suspended for five days.

Frankie Dettori was also banned nine days after he hit Rewilding 24 times inside the final two furlongs of the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.

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