Champion jumps trainer Paul Nicholls has called for the postponement of controversial new whip rules after discovering stable jockey Harry Cobden would have copped a 24 day ban for his ride of one of his Cheltenham winners on Saturday.
Nicholls said the rules, due to come into force over jumps on February 13, were “going to be a disaster for the sport” as he joined a chorus of jockeys to voice concerns about the impact.
Cobden was pulled up by the stewards are steering Il Rodoto to victory in a handicap chase on Cheltenham Festival Trials Day for breaching the new restrictions, which aim to curtail whip excess with the introduction of stiffer penalties including disqualification.
He was told he would have received a 24 day suspension while Sean Bowen would have got the same sanction for his winning ride on Back On The Lash in the cross country chase, had the offences occurred outside the current bedding-in period.
Nicholls said in a Twitter post: “Two fantastic top rides. How they can get bans is beyond me. Cobden excelled on Il Ridito.
“This all needs postponing until after the spring festivals otherwise this is all going to be a disaster for the sport. For once common sense needs to prevail.”
The British Horseracing Authority approved a suite of 20 recommendations on the whip last year from an industry-wide group this year, after an extensive consultation process which included the Professional Jockeys Association.
There was little public jockey dissent until December after which fresh discussions resulted in the rule which was to limit use of the whip to the backhand position was dropped.
Yet concerns continue with leading rider Sean Quinlan revealing he would have received 51 days in bans last week as he struggles to keep his whip arm below head and shoulder height.
Further argument broke out on Monday night on social media after James Reveley, the British jockey who rides in France where is the reigning champion over jumps, suggested riders should be able to adapt.
“Regarding the new whip rules in the UK, I strongly believe that if a jockey is unable to use the whip 7 times or less in a race as opposed to 8 it is ridiculous,” he said on Twitter. “IMO, jockeys in general rely too much upon the whip to encourage a horse to go forward.”
Quinlan replied: “James you should stay quiet if you don’t know what is going on, that is not the issue.”