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Unlucky Number 13!

The great twelve-strike debate

When a jockey spends hours eating conservatively and sweating to take weight off to ride, achieves the goal of a victory for the connections, and then gets told by a guy in a suit, who has probably never ridden, that he is being fined for contravening a crop rule, then we could be sitting on a time bomb.

That’s the opinion of a few seasoned racing folk canvassed by the Sporting Post this week.

While it doubtless has all the very best intentions of winning the hearts and minds of the ‘horseracing is just plain cruel’ lobby, the National Horseracing Authority’s twelve strike amendment to their rule 58.10.2 implemented last Friday has already seen sixteen infringements at a gross penalty revenue of just under R10 000. That sum looks likely to swell as the weeks pass.

The four Workrider infringements meted out on Saturday at Turffontein resulted in suspensions.

The top two jockeys were both given fines for their rides in the Scottsville second race – watch the clip:

The professional jockeys who have already incurred the wrath of the Stipes include top men like Stuart Randolph, Anton Marcus, Bernard Fayd’herbe, Richard Fourie and Craig Zackey.

“The issue lies not in the number of strikes but rather in the way that the tool is used. Getting a horse into position from the draw for example just after the start may need two smacks. An early position is a vital part of race-riding as the contest is often won or lost metres after the break. Now the jockey must think about those two guiding strikes, when he is riding a driving finish maybe 1600m later,” said veteran past champion jockey Garth Puller, who pointed out that the whip was a vital part of a horseman’s equipment going back in history.

Bernard Fayd’herbe wins the second on Deer Park – both he and second placed Anton Marcus were fined (Pic – Candiese Marnewick)

“The new crop is cushioned and it doesn’t inflict pain. It’s a persuader and an instruction to a horse. It has a safety and an encouragement aspect to it. Most jockeys know how to use it properly. And I am all for control and restrictions – it definitely can’t be a free for all. And it cannot be used on consecutive strides as we are well versed with. But how much genuine thought and consultation went into this new rule?” he asked, suggesting that the real point being missed was proper education of the broader public.

Puller said that the manner of the angle of the grip and the position of the body of the rider made all the difference to the force quantum of the strike. He also said that cognisance had to be taken too of where the horse was struck – the flank, for example was a no-go area.

Richard Fourie

“I note Richard Fourie was given two fines on Tuesday. Richard has a history of using his crop with caution. He tends to give them back-handers, which are more subtle reminders, than crashing blows. Now it’s all about numbers and counting to 12. So if the jockey is riding a driving heads-up heads-down finish, and he hits number 13 and wins, that’s it? That’s ridiculous, frankly.”

Puller suggested that if we wanted to watch a ride where the whip was possibly used excessively in his personal opinion, have a look at the ‘youngster who won the last at Scottsville on Wednesday’.

“He was always in front and even when he was clear he appeared to smack his mount – so maybe he notched 11 strikes. And it wasn’t about the horse hanging. So that’s all okay, then?”he asked.

A seasoned punter told the Sporting Post that he felt that a ‘çan of worms’ had been opened up with the new rule and questioned how the Stipes, who were already under pressure on raceday, were meant to focus on other important matters of monitoring.

“If there is an objection, who deals with what? And what about a tight finish? Are the jockeys meant to stop riding with the crop two strides from the line because the magical number 12 pops up? And then we find he counted incorrectly! I saw that the example posted by the Sporting Post during the week had various people reaching varying numbers of strikes for the Zackey ride on Sunday. There is so much wrong in the game – I think they need to start with basics – focus their attention on training officials – including the starters! Racing doesn’t need these negative sideshows created by administrators who are trying to make a point!”

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6 comments on “Unlucky Number 13!

  1. Ashleigh says:

    Heaven help any South African jockey who wants to ride in Europe then. 9 strikes before a Stewards inquiry in Ireland, 7 in Britain on the flat and just 5 in France. They seem to cope just fine there. The Arc and the Epsom Derby seem to still be going strong. Even Hawwaam won his first race without a whip entirely. A whip is very much needed for safety and steering. But the abuse of it makes its use questionable.

    Racing is under huge public scrutiny with regards to the whip and the use thereof. The industry needs to take heed of that or continue to shrink under fire. The world is a very different place to 20 or 30 years ago. Move with the times or you’re going to suffer the consequences.

    Also there is the aspect that hitting a horse more than 12 times with a tool designed and padded to encourage, but when with a lot of force from shoulder height by an adrenalised, powerful adult man, in exactly the same spot in a 25 second time frame, we are starting to tend toward a welfare issue. On strike 12, in the same spot, that whip HURTS. The horse flinches when a fly lands on its skin. It feels that whip, trust me. The horse doesn’t care how close the finish is or what the size of the tote pools are.

    The ProCush design does not hurt when used correctly, but jockeys tend to used generics which are not as soft or padded as the proprietary airfilled ProCush whips. They fall into the specs of the NHA rules, but they are not anywhere near the same as the originals which the rules were based on. Welts *still* happen, although far less frequently since the cushioned whip became compulsory.

    Constant amendments to the whip rules are needed.

  2. Brian says:

    Absolutely right!!!

    The rule makers are like a bunch of men telling their wives how to give birth!

  3. TEX says:

    WE BELEIVED THERE WOULD BE A HONEYMOON PERIOD TO END MAY 2019 – ONE OR TWO SMACKS OVER THE 12 LIMIT – TWO WARNINGS THEN A FINE – THIS APPEARS NOT TO BE THE CASE.
    JOCKEYS HAVE HAD CARTE BLANCHE IN SOUTH AFRICA FOR FAR TOO LONG. EDUCATION IS THE KEY TO ANY SUDDEN CHANGE. A JOCKEY RIDING IN A RACE AT AN AVERAGE SPEED OF 60 KM/HR IS ALREADY MULTI-TASKING, AND NOW HE MUST COUNT AS WELL.

    THE FINES SHOULD GO TO THE HORSE CARE TRUST

  4. Cecil Pienaar says:

    The only way we going to find out if ‘whipping’ hurts is to test it on a few Stipes. The we’ll have a debate on thickness of skin.

  5. Paul says:

    Whatever the situation, it pays to listen to the real experts. Did the authorities consult with the likes of Garth, Tex and Andrew Fortune? I think not.
    No doubt use of strick needs to be addressed but do so in a sensible, consultative manner pretty please. The present rule has more holes than my favourite Swiss cheese.

  6. Brian says:

    Tex! Do you really believe those entrusted with integrity have integrity? They remind me of ” Meter Maids” in the old days. See you running towards your car and as you get there, they write the ticket with that gleeful grimace and they say, “I’m just doing my Job”.

    BULL Sh.1.T

    Racing is run by people who hate it, they can’t wait to attack trainers, jockeys, owners.

    And where is Mr Transparency?

    It took a long time for apartheid to fall but it did. It took a long time for the Jooste story to come out and fall but it did.

    I have, never, in my 47 years of being an avid racing fan and PUNTER, been so disillusioned.

    Never!

    It seems as if those tasked with policing and running racing are heel bent on destroying it.

    Maybe they see it as the last bastion of white elitism that must be destroyed at all costs.

    i don’t know but this cannot go on.

    The revolution is eating itself

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