x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Whip rules whip up a storm at British Champions Day

Miffed jockeys throw their weight behind Richard Hughes, their fellow rider, at the Ascot event.

LONDON // British Champions Day threatens to be overshadowed by the decision of jockeys to back Richard Hughes on his choice to quit race riding over the new whip rules in Britain.

Although there was not a formal strike, all of the jockeys scheduled to ride at Windsor on Monday have refused to participate.

Hughes received a second five-day riding ban in four days on Thursday night for hitting More Than Words too many times in a race at Kempton Park.

He has quit race riding indefinitely.

The rules, brought in on Monday, state that a jockey cannot strike a horse more than seven times during a race, and only five times in the final 200 metres.

Hughes's protest means he misses the ride on Godolphin's Casamento and Dick Turpin today and his ban has resulted in Sheikh Fahad's Strong Suit requiring another rider in next month's Breeders' Cup.

"I'd rather not ride than take the art of race riding away," Hughes said.

"In football terms it is the same as a player committing a foul and getting a five-match ban and his wages taken away from him. The penalties are barbaric."

Richard Hannon, who trains Strong Suit and heads the trainers' standings, backed his son-in-law to the hilt.

"Strong Suit is a very good horse, but he is not an easy ride and takes a bit of knowing and now, because of one stupid decision, we find that we are going to America without a jockey.

"Richard Hughes does not abuse horses and he never has done. If Sheikh Fahad thought that he did, he would not have horses with us.

"It is absolutely ridiculous, and we will be the laughingstock of America when we tell them that we could not bring our jockey because, though he weighs little more than eight-stone, he was suspended for striking half a ton of horseflesh six times with a padded foam whip."


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