New whip rule fears subside after Cheltenham Festival success

Despite concerns that the recently amended whip rules might overshadow Cheltenham week, the Festival passed by relatively unscathed by the new regulations.

The recent revision had already caused a spate of suspensions, the most notable of which saw jockey Lorcan Williams forced to sit out the Festival after being banned for misuse of the whip on board Makin'Yourmindup at Haydock in February.

However, the British Horseracing Authority has revealed that fears the new rules might dominate proceedings at Prestbury Park proved unfounded, as there were only six referrals for whip offences during the course of the Cheltenham Festival, with no danger of disqualifications for breaching the rules.

A number of high-profile racing figures had expressed concerns about the possibility of numerous bans under the revised rules, which limit National Hunt riders to seven strikes of the whip during a contest.

Exceeding the limit by four strikes or more results in disqualification of the horse and a doubled suspension for the rider – but no transgressions of that magnitude occurred in the Cotswolds, the BHA said.

From 444 rides over the 28 races of the Festival, just six referrals have been made and only one of those was for a winning ride.

Three referrals were for use above the permitted level – of which the winning ride was not one – two for using the whip in the incorrect place and one for using it above shoulder height.

The BHA acknowledged there would be "inevitable interest in such a high-profile event and the first major Festival under the new rules", prompting them to release the information ahead of the Whip Review Committee's regular weekly meeting on Tuesday, when bans will be imposed and then announced.

Sign up for our free newsletter.

© 2023 Sky Racing World. All rights reserved.