In a protest over new horseriding whip regulations, Irish jockey Richard Hughes has torn up his riding license into tiny pieces.
The Irish rider is in a huff after receiving his second ban in one week due to new animal welfare rules by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) that were introduced on Monday.
Making things worse, Hughes’ punishment, which came in the form of a five-day suspension on Monday and a further 10 day ban at the Maiden Fillies’ Stakes on Thursday, means he won’t have a chance to ride in the Breeders’ Cup.
Petulant Hughes said he would “rather retire” than ride under the current rules and wouldn’t tape his license back together until they were reviewed.
In a report by the BBC, he said: “I’ve handed in my license until further notice and until the rules are resolved I won’t be riding – I’d rather retire. I can’t ride horses like this. It’s like telling Lionel Messi he can’t use his left foot.”
The new guidelines mean that whips can only be used half the amount that they used to. A maximum of seven times in a flat race and eight times in a jumps race. Additionally, a maximum of five strokes can be administered in the last furlong or from the final obstacle.
Hughes added: “I’ve been trying to obey the rules this week and when the rules came in we all thought seven was a fair number, but then they set a trap by saying you could only hit them five in the last furlong.
He continued: “The new rules mean you actually hit them more, as you have to get two into them before the furlong pole and then you have five for the final furlong.
“I was always told as a young lad the last jockey to go for stick usually wins. I don’t think I can do my owners justice any more. They’re taking art of race riding away.”
It is understood that the limits are likely to remain the same but the punishments may be too harsh and should be reviewed. So let us get this right – this would mean jockeys would find it just as difficult to abide by the rules; but they won’t be punished as hard. Makes lots of sense, doesn’t it?
However, in a statement by the BHA, Chairman Paul Roy, said: “We were greatly encouraged by the immediate, predominantly positive response from jockeys, trainers and other stakeholders, following publication of our Review of the use of the whip in horseracing.
“We have also been pleased with the way the new rules have been adhered to by the vast majority of jockeys since their implementation on Monday this week.”
Hmm, considerable emphasis on “predominantly” there Paul. Within days of the rules being employed, we’ve got jockeys receiving bans left, right and centre. Let’s see how well the new regulations go down at the British Champions Day at Ascot this weekend.