Ruby Walsh: New Irish whip rule is a regressive move

The top jock has his say on the welfare issues in racing making news on both sides of the Irish Sea...


I don’t think the Turf Club needed to introduce the eight-strikes rule into Irish racing. It just looks to me like they’re copying the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). You’re always told as a kid that just because your friend jumps into the fire doesn’t mean you do.

It’s a backward step. We have so many well-qualified stewards in Ireland who know what they’re doing – but we’ve taken the power away from them.

Stewarding is like refereeing. There are rules but you should always go on what you see. If it looks bad, it is bad. But if it doesn’t look bad – it’s probably not.

I’ve always believed that whip rules are very important. There are times when two strikes are too many and there are times when horses respond to 10 or 11 strikes. Putting a number on it never made sense to me then – and it still doesn’t make sense now.

It’s a regressive step, not progressive.


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I don’t think the stewards got it right at Cheltenham either by banning Declan Lavery on Jerrysback. Thankfully that 10-day ban was overturned today. My opinion is based on the fact that the pair were never ‘out of contention’ for either prize money or the each-way money for people who backed the horse.

To punish guys who don’t pull up their horses when still in contention is wrong.

It crosses a line and isn’t the right way to approach it. You can’t start pulling up horses who are in contention. I understand what the rules are for and I understand what the BHA are trying to do. However, implementing that rule is as big a part of that and they didn’t do that initially in this case.

As for future changes to the the National Hunt Chase – it shouldn’t just be just a knee-jerk reaction. It should be made with the best interests of everyone at heart.

And that needs thought and consideration.

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What do you think?