Hughes sits out racing until whip rules are reviewed

Richard Hughes has pledged to relinquish his riding licence with immediate effect until there is a review of the British Horseracing Authority’s new whip rules after picking up another ban at Kempton last night.

The Irishman was given a five-day suspension on the first afternoon the rules were put into effect on Monday, and he got another 10 at Kempton when finishing a neck second on More Than Words in the Play Rainbow Riches At bluesq.com Maiden Fillies’ Stakes.

The severity of the punishment was due to the fact it was his second offence. Hughes gave up a ride later on, and must sit out October 29-31, November 1-5 and 9-10, meaning he will miss Strong Suit in the Breeders’ Cup.

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He said: “I’ve handed my licence in until further notice. I’ve been trying to obey the rules this week and when the rules came in we all thought seven was a fair number, but then they set a trap by saying you could only hit them five in the last furlong.

“The new rules mean you actually hit them more, as you have to get two into them before the furlong pole and then you have five for the final furlong. I don’t think I can do my owners justice any more.

“It’s my own decision. I gave her (More Than Words) a couple of slaps when she needed them but I am not a whip jockey. Both times I’ve been done I’ve hit them six times. I’ve got a 15-day ban because of it and I miss the Breeders’ Cup.

“Until the rules are resolved I won’t be riding. I’d rather retire. I can’t ride horses like this. It’s like telling Lionel Messi he can’t use his left foot.”

The stewards later fined Hughes £290 for giving up his remaining Kempton rides, on Fanny May and Thank You Joy.

The new guidelines mean the whip can only be used a maximum of seven times in a Flat race, and eight times in a jumps race (and only five times in the last furlong/after the last obstacle). This is roughly half the amount of times a whip could be used previously before a rider was found in breach of the rules of racing.

Increased entry-point penalties are being implemented, with a five-day minimum suspension for not adhering to the frequency limits. The previous minimum penalty was a caution.

Earlier yesterday, the British Horseracing Authority announced it was set to consider submissions from the Professional Jockeys Association regarding penalties in the wake of the new rules.

n Paul Hanagan column and other racing news: Page 22.