Paul Hanagan: New whip rules should have had more time to settle down

TWO subjects have dominated racing this week – QIPCO British Champions Day tomorrow, which is the richest day’s racing in the history of the sport in this country and the introduction of new rules over the use of the whip by jockeys.

An issue that has got a lot of media coverage this week has been the introduction of these new rules over the use of the whip by jockeys in races.

A few of my colleagues have picked up bans already as a result of the changes.

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The first week of any new regime was always going to be tough, nevertheless plenty of us in the weighing room do feel that there could have been a period of ‘bedding in’ for the new rules. As riders, we do understand it is important that we convey the right message about horse welfare to the wider public. Let’s hope the issues can be resolved.

It is going to be a fantastic occasion at Ascot, and I’ll be trying to catch a few of the top races, but my priority is getting more winners in my pursuit of a second jockeys’ championship.

As we go into this afternoon’s and this evening’s racing, I lead my closest rival Kieren Fallon by eight winners – though I am writing before Silvestre De Sousa’s rides at Brighton and Kempton yesterday when he might have closed the gap.

It is going to be tough. Winners are always harder to come by towards the end of the season, and in the last three weeks I will increasingly be competing on ‘Kieren’s territory’ in the South.

I have four chances to add to my total of winners at Redcar this afternoon. Three of them are racecourse debutants, and it is difficult to know how they will respond to racing in public for the first time. Two of the three are from the boss Richard Fahey’s yard – Hawks Reef (3.10pm) and Going Grey (3.45pm). Both are doing well at home.

Artists Corner, in the claiming race at 2.35pm, won at Redcar two months ago. She has a featherweight to carry – indeed I might even be putting up a couple of pounds overweight – so she would have a chance. We’re putting blinkers on her to help her concentration.

Then it is down to Wolverhampton for five rides. The likeliest to go close would be Know No Fear (8.50pm). I was third on him a fortnight ago at the Midlands all-weather track, but he was not a threat to the winner.

On to tomorrow and I would highlight the chances of three of my rides at Catterick Bridge.

In the second race of the afternoon, the fillies’ nursery at 2.20pm, I partner the Sir Henry Cecil-trained Feelthedifference which won at Beverley in the middle of last month. She would be my best chance of the day.

Trip The Light could also go close. Just last week this experienced campaigner won an apprentice race at York. He has been a grand old servant at Richard Fahey’s stables, and goes for his 12th career victory in the 4.40. I think Makbullet could have a chance, too at 4pm. He ran a good race when placed at Beverley last month. My only reservation would be that seven furlongs might just be a bit sharp.

As York’s Flat season came to a close last week, I was delighted to have the winner that meant I became Knavesmire’s leading jockey for the third year in a row.

I always get a great reception from punters, and it’s nice to ride eight winners there though the stunning four-timer on Saturday by Silvestre meant I needed my second places to retain the title.

In the meantime, it really is a superb day of sport at Ascot tomorrow – and one for horse racing to savour. There’s going to be a big crowd for the inaugural QIPCO British Champions Day, the climax to a series that saw five of the races at York, including the Juddmonte International won by Twice Over, who looks to add another prize to his already glittering CV tomorrow.

Racing has finished for 2011 at York returning on May 16, 2012. Visit www.yorkracecourse.co.uk to find out the 17 fixtures. Tickets are already on sale with prices frozen at this year’s rates until January.