Authorities not expecting a surge in whip offences despite new rules

Jockeys have been critical of new IHRB rule restricting them to nine strokes per race

Chris Hayes celebrates victory on Madhmoon in the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown in September. He will be on board Tarnawa at the venue for Dermot Weld today. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Chris Hayes celebrates victory on Madhmoon in the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown in September. He will be on board Tarnawa at the venue for Dermot Weld today. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

A spike in whip offences is not anticipated by Irish racing’s regulatory body when new rules come into force next week.

Tuesday’s Gowran fixture will be the first programme run under new regulations which will see an automatic stewards enquiry called should a jockey use nine strokes or more on a horse.

The new rule was brought in by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on the back of a 26 per cent increase in whip rule breaches last year.

It has been criticised by a number of leading figure including both Ruby Walsh and Johnny Murtagh. The Irish Jockeys Association has described the eight-stroke limit as evidence of “a lack of enlightened thinking”.

In 2017 there was an initial increase in the number of ‘Non-Trier’ enquiries on the back of the introduction of an amended Rule 212. However a similar pattern is not envisaged by officials in relation to use of the whip.

“No I don’t think there will be problems. Stewards secretaries will speak to the riders every day at the start to draw their attention to the new rules. And in fairness, notwithstanding the increase in breaches last year, most riders are exemplary, particularly the more experienced ones,” IHRB chief executive Denis Egan said on Tuesday.

“So we’re not anticipating an avalanche in rule breaches or anything like that,” The new whip rules bring Irish racing into line with other European jurisdictions in having a specific number of strokes that are permitted.

In Britain the maximum number of strokes allowed on the flat is seven while over jumps it is eight. However no distinction between the codes is being made here.

“There was no distinction in the old rules either, whether it was a six furlong race or a three mile chase,” Egan said.

“It very much depends on how the whip is used. For instance a rider could use the whip three times and break the rules if not giving the horse time to respond,” he added.

The IHRB has already announced riders will start off with a clean slate next week in relation to whip use. Egan has also stated that penalties for offences are unchanged with no specific provision put in place either for high-profile or valuable races.

“At this stage there won’t be a directive issued to stewards that penalties for bigger races should be higher. But, as now, the stewards take into account the types of races breaches take place in. It’s up to stewards to decide,” he said.

Next week will also see the IHRB amend the reserve system after a number of controversial incidents in recent years.

The most notable was when the reserve Carlingford Lough won the 2013 Galway Plate after another JP McManus-owned runner was a late withdrawal.

The new cut-off time for reserves getting into a race has been brought forward to 11am on raceday with a 10am winter deadline in November, December and January.

Best available

There are rule changes too relating to “team tactics” with pacemakers permitted as long as their riders don’t executive a manoeuvre – such as coming off the rails to allow a stable companion up the inner – that benefits a horse in the same ownership or yard.

Leopardstown’s 2019 flat racing campaign begins on Wednesday with a Student Race Day programme that could see jockey Chris Hayes score in the opener for Dermot Weld.

Tarnawa is one of two rides Hayes has for Weld who said on Tuesday he is once again adopting a “best available” policy when it comes to jockeys this season.

Weld’s long time ally Pat Smullen has been out of action since being diagnosed with cancer last year.

Declan McDonogh rode many of Weld’s runners in his place last year but isn’t on board any of the trainer’s half-dozen runners at Leopardstown’s midweek fixture.

“I’m using the best available and Declan will still be riding for me occasionally during the year. He rode out for me this morning and I may use him at the weekend,” said Weld.

“Pat is making great progress and we’re looking forward to him rejoining us soon. In the meantime we’ve no retained rider and I’ll be using the best available. Chris Hayes is a very good rider and was available,” he added.

Wednesday’s action at Leopardstown will give him a feel of the track ahead of Saturday’s classic trials card which is set to see Hayes team up with Kevin Prendergast’s Guineas hope Madhmoon.

The unbeaten colt is among a stellar entry for the Ballylinch Stud 2,000 Guineas Trial which also saw two Aidan O’Brien trained Group One winners, Ten Sovereigns and Magna Grecia, left in at Tuesday’s forfeit stage.

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