Jockeys React To New Whipping Rules

Published: September 1, 2009 11:56 am EDT

Reactions are mixed in the thoroughbred world on the new rules set out for urging a horse, with some riders brazenly stating they will break rules if they think it means the difference between winning and losing


As Ontario's new rules come into effect today for thoroughbred and harness racing, the aim is to improve horse safety and attract new fans.

"The difference between the old whip and new crop are like night and day," Robert King, a former jockey and manager of the Jockeys' Benefit Association of Canada told the Toronto Star. "It's so much less severe and our jockeys are welcoming it."

One of those jockeys is Todd Kabel, one of Canada's best. Kabel has used only the new style crop since the spring.

"I'm all for it," said Kabel. "I think it has the same effect for me."

Where Kabel does see issue is the penalty structure, which he feels is "too severe." A prime example of how the new rule would change how a driver was penalized was in this year's Queen's Plate. Jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva was fined $200 for excessive use of the whip. Under the new rules, he would be fined $12,000 – 20 per cent of his $60,000 purse – and possibly face a five-day suspension.

"I can see (the penalties) if a guy is beating the hell out of a horse and he's not responding," Kabel told the Star.

On the flip side, jockeys downunder feel their penalty structure for urging a horse is not strict enough and have gone on record as saying they will continue to break the rules. The rules presently state that the most severe penalty is a fine equal to the loss of a riding fee and the five per cent of the purse, plus suspension.

"The only thing that is going to make jockeys on a whole really take notice of the rules is if the horses that a breach occurs on are disqualified," jockey Peter Robl told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"I'll be doing everything I can to win [Saturday's $1 million] Golden Rose and if that means hitting the horse more than the allowable three strides in succession, then I'll be doing it. You won't find any other driver that won't do it in a million-dollar race when you are neck and neck with other horses."

Stewards downunder are counting the number of strikes from a jockey, something Ontario is not doing. King feels that the horse needs time to respond to urging.

"I mean, really, three in a row is enough. How many do you need? If you hit a horse eight times in a row how can he respond?"

Kabel, on the other hand, agrees with his downunder counterpart.

"If I am down in the heat of a race, how do you start counting?" said Kabel. "People know I am an aggressive rider, that's why they hire me."

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