Matt Chapman: Jockeys might consider strike action in row over new whip rules – they must unite and save our sport

YOU will read that jockeys have been silent over new whip rules until now.

But anyone saying that or writing such articles has not done their research.

PA:Press AssociationThe whip has long been an issue in racing but the recent review has made the issue worse, according to Chappers[/caption]

Jockeys have been speaking out. They have not been listened to.

That is why they have to now publicly unite as best they can, and if necessary, yes, that might include strike action as happened recently in Scandinavia.

Rule-makers stopped a walk out there by finally paying attention

Few sports try to self-destruct more than horse racing, but you have to say the powers that be have reached a new level of ineptness over the whip.

Most of you reading this will know what I think of the current whip rules, let alone the new ones due to arrive in January.

Mathematically they make no sense. Visually they make no sense.


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But if you are anti-whip you have to ask yourself why?

The whip is not a welfare issue. The general public are not up in arms over its use in horse racing.

So what is it that gets to you?

The BHA knows what I’m saying is a fact because it itself asked the general public to make contact and put forward their thoughts.

Very few did. Because it’s not something people are generally concerned about.

Is racing doing the ‘right thing’ here?

But every day the whip does become an issue because racing loves to try and make out it’s doing the ‘right thing’ which in itself creates the nightmare.

We all know the BHA has a mission statement to try and prove to the world it cares about horses more than anyone else.

The whip is its chosen tool to prove that. It’s about ego and people thinking they are clever – striving to show nations around the world that they know best.

But actually all the mission will do is result in the downfall of the sport BHA is entrusted to protect.

The whip issue is much bigger than you might think.

And for Flat riders a much much bigger issue.

A group of Britain’s most respected jockeys – some of the best in the world – recently met officials in Newmarket.

They did speak out. They argued their case.

As far as I can tell their words were pointless. Not one was acted upon.

Now, Flat jockeys ride all around the world.

British racing should see it as a huge positive that every racing nation would love a Ryan Moore, Frankie Dettori or William Buick to ply their trade on foreign soil.

Indeed it is one of British racing’s great selling points.

It’s of huge credit to our riders they are in such demand.

British jockeys in jeopardy?

But why would that happen in the future? British-based riders will be forced to ride in a way foreign racing fans will find unacceptable from a visual and betting point of view.

And if you think the crucial World Pool punters will accept punting on British racing where jockeys are denied the chance to give their horse the maximum chance of winning then you really are in cloud cuckoo land.

So many questions need to be answered here.

Let’s start with the magical Whip Consulation Steering Group.

EPASam Waley-Cohen broke whip rules when winning the Grand National on Noble Yeats[/caption]

Now, the names on that won’t have surprised you at all, because they are always the same old ones, but the ratification of its decisions surely will have made you think?

The Steering Group made 20 recommendations. You might think BHA would take one or two, maybe two or three points away from it.

But oh no. All 20 were given the go-ahead in an incredibly quick period of time.

It was like someone just said yes to everything without thinking of the consequences.

Let’s tackle another point being branded about: the backhand position.

A backhander?

Willie Carson had no issue with using the whip in his backhand, the position which will become mandatory. Neither did Ray Cochrane.

So it must be possible.

What a load of nonsense.

Every sports person will be able to do different things to another.

One tennis player will play a backhand with one hand, another with a double hand.

It depends on the size and shape of each individual what will suit. Simple bone structure could make a difference.

But the most annoying aspect of all of this comes back to why?

People upset about jockeys using a whip they don’t understand could not care less whether it’s being used in the forehand or backhand.

It’s a whip. Being used on a horse. For them that’s it.

So you stand up for your sport and you show anyone who wants to know why it is amazing.

What you don’t do is give in and make skilled, professional riders have an impossible life. And ruin a sport while doing it.

Jockeys must make concessions too

I’m not asking for it all one way by the way. Jockeys will have to give something.

I would suggest they accept much stronger punishments than even suggested for those who break the rules, particularly in Group and Grade 1 events.

And as a group they simply have to agree that they abide by whatever rules are decided if they are handed some leeway.

They must do this. Without fail. As best they can.

That’s totally understandable.

I’m a real fan of Richard Kingscote. For all of his career I have supported him in every way.

But I was shocked when he said the other day: “I think it’s going to be hard for lads to adapt but we’ve been told we have to, so I guess we’ll just have to get on with it.”

Like… Oh, my God!

No Richard. Quite the opposite.

Now is the time jockeys unite. You fight your corner. You make a stand. You do this for the future of British racing. Please.

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