A step on The Long And Winding Road

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    Marginal Value
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    Today the Racing Post Online chose as its lead story that Charlie Fellowes thinks that his very first Royal Ascot winner, Thanks Be, should have been disqualified. That’s because her jockey Hayley Turner broke the whip rules (earning her a nine day ban and £1600 fine). My point is not to rerun the old arguments about whip use in racing, but to ask whether the publication of Charlie Fellowes opinion in that way is a step along a path that is only going one way? Is it an indicator that the racing authorities decided the end-point of the whip debate a long time ago and are using opportunities as they arise to persuade everybody connected with the sport to move a step further towards the end-point?

    There would be many steps required before whips are eliminated from British racing. But is the next step, treating the breaking of whip rules the same as breaking other rules relating to unfair advantage (eg weighing-in three pounds light), getting closer by the day.

    Here is a successful, young, high-profile trainer making the case that the current rules are unfair to the horses and owners who are beaten in this manner, and joining the successful, oldish, high-profile trainer Sir Mark Prescott, who has thought the same thoughts for a long time, and many other like-minded people in racing. Surely, this is all going in one direction, and it might no longer be a case of being in the right, or being in the wrong, but just managing the transition of racing into a greater alignment with the rest of society.

    Since we will not be going back to the old rules, should we just get on with managing the project of going all the way, or will there be a battle to the bitter end? Especially if the end is so out of line with what the majority of the population see as fair and right, that racing disappears. Will we miss the whip as much as we miss cotton caps and silk shirts to protect jockeys’ skulls and spines?

    • Total Posts 26354

    It’ll be totally different without the whip. Far more horses idling badly – the best horse far less likely to win. Far fewer being able to make ground like we’re used to with the whip; but also more that would’ve won easily yet down tools – virtually stopping. More use of appendages. Jockeys/trainers will try all sorts in order to shock their mounts in to going faster. eg Shouting a word that – when at home – will be followed by hurting the horse. Learning it to flee from the word instead of the whip. Is that what you want?

    There’s a far better/fairer way of sorting things out. Currently horses are disqualified or demoted if interference caused by the jockey has made the difference and the wrong horse has won/placed. Shouldn’t be too difficult for stewards to hold an enquirey when whip rules are broken. If they feel a horse has only won/placed because the jockey broke the whip rules – demote or in bad cases disqualify. Fine/ban the jockey for every offense, no matter if the horse wins/places and keeps it, wins/places and demoted/disqualified or doesn’t win/place at all.

    DO NOT demote/disqualify unless breaking the rules has resulted in (in the stewards opinion) the wrong result. Demoting/disqualifying a winner that has broken rules but would’ve won anyway… will only result in non-triers deliberately breaking rules to be disqualified.

    If banning a soft object which used correctly does not hurt – what is the excuse to keep big, hard objects/jumps that can cause injury, pain and sometimes death? Get rid of the whip and jump racing will follow… and then eventually flat racing too.

    value is everything
    • Total Posts 1137

    “Far more horses idling badly – the best horse far less likely to win.”

    I’ll have to stop you right there, Ginge. If a horse doesn’t have the right temperament for racing, how can it be the “best” horse?

    • Total Posts 4596

    I may be poking the hornet’s nest here but I think unless they change the whip rules there should be DQ’s for breaking them.

    All I want is a level playing field and if one jockey gets done for excessive and wins and the one finishing second and abides by the rules how on earth can that be a level playing field?
    Jockey’s are obviously going to break the rules in big races and take the consequences because in the current climate pundits punters and probably owners would be apoplectic if in a driving finish they didn’t.

    Hayley turner probably got about five grand for winning on Thanks Be and was fined £1600 you do the maths!!

    Like I said earlier I just want as level a playing field as is possible and admittedly we would probably get multiple DQ’s in a race when the laws were first applied but everyone would get used to it in time.

    And IMO it is inevitable that the whip will be banned eventually

    Ex RubyLightEx RubyLight
    • Total Posts 1293

    I think that’s what we all want and there should be no difference between a whip offense and an interference.

    What annoys me the most is the fact that stupid journalists were blinded by a first time winning female jockey at Royal Ascot and praised her for the win, instead of mentioning the whip offense.
    Female jockeys were and are still great even without a winner at Royal Ascot. However, Charlie Fellowes did the right thing imo when he went public on this matter, because you can sense that he’s really bothered by the way this success was achieved. If you win at Royal Ascot, you want to win on merit, at least that’s what you’d expect at the highest possible level.

    Well done to him for putting the facts straight.

    • Total Posts 679

    Blindingly obvious (IMO) that it is unfair (on connections of the runner-up and backers of the runner up) for a jockey to break the rules and still keep the race. As the rules stand it should be an automatic DQ. Such a move would stop 90%+ cases of whip abuse, again IMO, overnight. Penalties need to be much harsher also (longer bans, bigger fines).

    • Total Posts 679

    Above post by Cormack15 btw, sorry, should post these as ‘me’

    • Total Posts 26354

    To a large extent I agree, although a DQ/demotion should only be done if stewards think the advantage gained from breaking the rules has affected the result… In the same way as interference rules work… although being on the side of those keeping within the rules on any close decision more than they do on interference.

    If a jockey breaks the whip rules and wins the Derby by 3 lengths the horse should keep it.
    If a jockey breaks the rules and wins the Derby by a nose – demote him to second.
    If a jockey is found to have deliberately ignored the whip rules, gone significantly over the limit and/or force and wins by half a length – disqualify.

    However, if horses get an automatic DQ for trying too hard, what easier way is there of not trying? ie Putting a jockey on board that has very few rides and making sure the horse does not win even if it “wins”.

    value is everything
    Bachelors HallBachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1266

    “If a jockey breaks the whip rules and wins the Derby by 3 lengths the horse should keep it.”

    Not sure I’m with you there. Why three lengths and not two and three quarters or three and a quarter? Also, if the overuse of the whip gave a significant advantage then it was unfair and warrants a disqualification. If it didn’t give an advantage then it was gratuitous violence which would also warrant a disqualification.

    • Total Posts 26354

    3 lengths is not an arbitary figure, ie is not 3+ lengths – 2 3/4 or 3 1/4 is the same(ish). Everything depends on how much a jockey breaks the rules by and how much the horse had in hand. What I meant is if a jockey breaks the whip rules by just a smallish margin and yet wins by a fairly large margin – it should not be demoted or disqualified because it is the rightful winner. Just as if a horse/jockey causes insignificant interference that does not affect the result placings remain unaltered.

    The worse the offence the more a horse must have in hand and the more likely it is to lose the race. If a jockey totally ignores the rules and absolutely thrashes a horse then I’d expect even a 3 length winner to be disqualified.

    value is everything
    • Total Posts 2575

    Hayley being honest there about the penalties being worth the risk.

    Richard Hoiles made an excellent point about DQs….if there was doubt ITV would have to cover the wait for the stewards’ inquiry and result in the way they currently do for a tight photo or interference…so they’d have to replay the finish over and over with the spotlight on the whip counting the strikes….the worst PR you could think of.

    • Total Posts 26354

    Possibly a good point, but don’t ITV and co do that anyway, Green?
    Showing the jockey deliberately breaking the rules and yet no chance of demotion/disqualification – is crazy.

    Have the rules already changed? I thought the number of strokes is only a guide anyway. So just because a jockey goes over the number of strokes doesn’t mean he/she’s broken the rules. It should surely be a matter of giving the horse time to respond?

    Actually, having said:
    However, if horses get an automatic DQ for trying too hard, what easier way is there of not trying? ie Putting a jockey on board that has very few rides and making sure the horse does not win even if it “wins””…

    …I’ve (partly) changed my mind. If a horse wins a race purely because it has (in the stewards opinion) broken the rules (even if that rules breach is marginal) then demote. If the marginal breakage has not been the difference then the result stands. However, for VALUABLE RACES ONLY If a jockey breaks the rules by a significant margin, then the horse should be automatically disqualified. ie Connections don’t deliberately lose big handicaps and Group 1’s. ie Hayley would be disqualified.

    value is everything
    • Total Posts 446

    ITV Racing had an interesting feature on the whip following Charlie Fellowes piece in the Post where he stated that his Ascot winner should have been disqualified because of Hayley Turner’s excessive use of the whip.

    Richard Hoiles came up with the excellent idea of avoiding going down the disqualification route by making the penalty for jockeys harsher by making them serve their bans on Group 1 race days.

    It continues to be stated by some that ‘the whip doesn’t hurt’ which begs the question why the number of strokes would matter.

    Predictably Matt Chapman remains damagingly ignorant and obtuse on the whole issue by saying that the whole debate is ‘pandering’ and any considerations of frequency or limits are totally unnecessary…..a self harming position for the sport.

    Interesting debate but for me the bottom line is if the whip hurts horses it needs to go.It can be carried and used for steering but it can’t be used otherwise.

    • Total Posts 8770

    I kind of see where you are coming from GT but putting shades of grey in the rules on the whip would only exacerbate the controversy.
    You have to DQ or not, all in.

    Great, honest interview by Hayley Turner yesterday.

    • Total Posts 26354

    If you’re going to disqualify every winner that breaks the rules, David; how do you stop non-triers thrashing the horse for automatic disqualification? ie People laying the horse knowing it can’t win. It would be the easiest – no risk – way to make money from non-triers that simply is not there now. Non-triers that look as though the jockey is trying too hard; a gift to the crooked. Increasing the number of non-triers and increasing the number of horses whip abused in lower grades.

    Disqualification/demotion in lower grades can only happen if the horse would not have won without breaking the rules.

    value is everything
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