Gordon Elliott fears consequences of new whip rules could be ‘frightening’

Horse Racing

Trainer worried there could be a shortage of jockeys at major meetings.

Gordon Elliott has added his voice to the list of trainers who have concerns over the introduction of the new whip rules, insisting the consequences ahead of jump racing’s two major festivals could be “frightening”.

New regulations are set to come into force on February 13 which include reducing how many times the whip can be used and a toughening up of the penalty structure.

The very worst whip offences could result in disqualification of horses and riding bans of 20 days – a tariff which will be doubled in class one and two races – with a soft launch having been in place since January 9.

Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins have both called for the British Horseracing Authority to push back the start date for the implementation, along with a number of senior riders on both sides of the Irish Sea, who have also aired their misgivings.

Elliott said: “It’s frightening. To think it’s coming in only a couple of weeks before a massive festival, it’s frightening.

“Listening to Sean Bowen and a few of the lads in England, they’re kind of having to change their style of riding altogether. I don’t think it’s good, especially heading into Cheltenham.

“Someone was saying Davy Russell would have broken a rule riding Mighty Potter the other day and I’m not sure if he hit him more than two or three (times), but it was because his hand rose a certain height.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Davy Russell could have faced a ban for his ride on Mighty Potter
Davy Russell could have faced a ban for his ride on Mighty Potter (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

He went on: “Obviously the jockeys are all going to have to do a lot of work on it, but it’s not really healthy going into Cheltenham.

“We could be short of riders for the Grand National! It’s frightening if you think four or five jockeys got suspended.”

There were 44 referrals to the whip review committee – which will be responsible for handing out suspensions under the new system – during the first week of the ‘bedding-in’ period but in subsequent weeks numbers have not been published.

The BHA announced last week that it would review “the manner in which the rules and guidance are being applied” both by raceday stewards and the committee but there are no plans to alter any specific rules or guidance.

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