RICHARD JOHNSON, on the march to his first Stobart British jump jockeys’ title, has added his views to the on-going whip debate, claiming “when a horse is responding it’s hard not to use your stick”.
The Gold Cup winning jockey expressed his sympathy to weighing room rival Tom Scudamore after the jockey was hit with a seven-day ban and £1,150 fine for his use of the whip on Soll when winning the veterans’ series final on Saturday.
For the second time in a week, controversy over the whip rules marred a high-profile televised race as the furore followed the 11-day suspension and £4,200 fine Paddy Brennan received for his winning ride on Cue Card in the King George VI Chase.
Scudamore branded his punishment “ridiculous” and was critical of the rules that allow just one more permitted strike for jumps racing than in sprint races on the Flat.
Johnson, who finished third behind Soll on Reaping The Reward on heavy ground at Sandown, agrees with Scudamore’s concerns.
“We only use the stick when the horses are responding to it,” he said on his Betway blog. “When you’re in a long distance chase on heavy ground, it’s completely different from a two-mile hurdle, never mind a five-furlong sprint.
“We all try to adhere to the rules, but I can guarantee that all every jockey wants is to do their best on a horse.
“I understand that it’s a very hard issue for the BHA. There’s almost no right or wrong. But when a horse is responding it’s hard not to use your stick.”
BHA to look at rules
The BHA had said after a rash of whip offences at York’s Ebor meeting that it would be monitoring events, and the organisation’s media manager Robin Mounsey said on Sunday it would be examining whip statistics for 2015.
He added: “The whip bans picked up in the two valuable races over the Christmas and new year period were disappointing from our point of view.
“While incidents like this in races at the top level are relatively rare, we’ve already stated we’re going to take a look at our penalty structures, in particular in big races in relation to win-at-all-costs riding, whether related to whip use or careless riding.
“The key is to have a penalty structure both fair and proportionate, but which also acts as sufficient deterrent.”