Jockey coaches poised to aid riders ahead of whip rule changes
The head of jockey coaching says the British Racing School in Newmarket will do all it can to help professional jockeys to adapt to the new whip rules which are set to come into force in the autumn.
Former Flat jockey Richard Perham, who helps guide southern-based jockey coaches to deliver training and assessment of young riders on licence courses, feels the 20 recommendations outlined by the whip consultation steering group should prove positive for racing.
The 54-year-old, who gained vast experience in the saddle when riding for Richard Hannon senior, thinks professional riders should be supported, particularly in the fundamental change to using the whip in the backhand position.
Perham said: “Though not part of the steering group, the jockey coaching programme was part of the overall consultation. We have worked with the BHA over time and had discussions with them and we are all very supportive of the changes, which should be positive for racing.
“The professional jockeys and younger jockeys are all taught – and use – the backhand position as a means of motivating, correcting and encouraging a horse to go forward.
“The important thing is that the professional and younger jockeys are supported. There is a period of transition and some professional jockeys might need support. We are very open to helping them.
“It is about helping their transition into how they progress through a race and ultimately end up waving and using the whip in the backhand position to drive that horse forward and lengthen that horse’s stride.
“First and foremost the whip is used as a corrective tool. It is quite frightening when half a ton of horse flesh is doing 40 miles an hour and you are sat on top of it, and it decides to go in a direction you don’t want it to go.
“There are occasions when you have to say, ‘wait a minute – you have to respect what I am doing’ [to the horse].
“But let’s be straight about it. It doesn’t happen that often in racing situations, but that is a fundamental reason why the whip has to be part of a jockey’s toolkit.”
The ultimate sanction of disqualification will be introduced in cases of extreme breaches of the whip rules and there will be a whip review panel which will take away most of the responsibilities for enforcement action from raceday stewards.
A detailed implementation plan will be finalised over the coming months, allowing time for the training of jockeys and stewards and for a bedding-in period before the new rules are applied in earnest.
“I firmly believe we are not going to be faced with massive problems and the rule changes are quite black and white,” added Perham. “That is definitely a good thing.
“We fully support the findings. We are open to all avenues to helping the transitional stage. We have fully-employed BHA coaches – myself, Kevin Darley, Michael Hills, Rodi Greene, George Baker, Russell Kennemore and Brian Harding.
“We have also got qualified self-employed coaches, the likes of Carl Llewellyn, John Reid, Mick Fitzgerald, Michael Tebbutt, John Bramhill and Neil Pollard – we have no end of incredibly well-regarded coaches who are all going to be on hand to assist riders and also to help with the BHA with any ongoing debates.
“These are positive changes. So, we will support what the BHA findings are and will do our utmost to uphold the welfare and integrity of this wonderful sport.”