Jockeys welcome new rules
Cirrus Des Aigles lands the Champion Stakes - and sparks a whip controversy
Jockeys have welcomed the radical changes to the whip rules planned by the British Horseracing Authority.
New rules are to be introduced in advance of the Cheltenham Festival following a BHA board meeting at which the proposals were approved.
"The PJA is pleased by today's decision by the British Horseracing Authority to make important amendments to both the rules and the penalties relating to the use of the whip within racing," said a statement from Paul Struthers, chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association.
"The adjustment to the penalty regime is welcome, as the previous penalty structure was not appropriate.
"However, of greater importance is the general change of approach to how the rules are fundamentally framed and applied, which was the overriding issue, not just for jockeys but for racing generally.
"This change recognises that a 'grey' issue cannot be proportionately and fairly regulated by a 'black and white' rule, and that jockeys are skilled horsemen who care passionately about horses and are being denied the ability to use their full skill and judgment throughout the course of the race.
"If this is implemented as the PJA believes is the intention, jockeys will no longer be punished for genuine, wholly unintended mistakes nor for otherwise perfectly acceptable rides."
The statement continued: "I will continue the dialogue with the BHA as they finalise the guidelines for how this approach will be implemented. Around 90% of the offences under the rules that came into force in October 2011 would not have come close to constituting an offence under the old rules.
"Jockeys have collectively made Herculean efforts to change their riding styles overnight and deserve enormous credit not just for that but for their patience whilst discussions to find a sensible solution to the major issues were taking place.
"Everyone hopes that once the revised interpretation of the rules comes into force, racing can return to talking about the positives, rather than focusing on and reinforcing an inaccurate and unwarranted impression of both the sport and its jockeys."