Belfast Telegraph

Friday 21 November 2014

The Punter: Russell whipped up big win

Tony McCoy suffered a five-day ban
Tony McCoy suffered a five-day ban

After Quito De La Roque won the big race at Down Royal last Saturday, did anyone question the ride given by jockey Davy Russell?

Well, no because there was no reason to for what was described as a brilliant ride. The favourite was struggling three out and at one point on the exchanges, was on offer at 100-1 after hitting a flat spot.

However, the Russell never gave up, knowing that stamina was the horse's ace card and stoked up the novice up with effective use of the ‘persuader' to beat two non-stayers over the three miles.

The punters cheered along with the winning connections and trainer Colm Murphy. The local stewards weren't concerned that Russell hit the horse at least a dozen times during the race.

No rules were broken and Quito responded to Russell's driving and the prize was duly landed. The horse suffered no ill effects. Compare that to the fate of Tony McCoy who the following day at Ffos Las, was handed a ridiculous five-day ban for using the whip one more time over the BHA limit of eight strokes on Caddie Master beaten a short head in a three mile handicap hurdle.

McCoy said that another smack would have won the race but he could not administer it as he believed he had used up the maximum. What he had forgotten was the flick of the whip after the third last which was deemed a ninth stroke.

It illustrates the craziness of the BHA new whip rule which allows jump jockeys only one more stroke in races often over three miles and in often tough conditions compared to that allowed to a flat jockey racing over five furlongs! So who wins in this mad rush to appease the perceptions of those who, for the most part, aren't interested in racing?

The whip rule was brought in as nothing more than poorly thought out PR spin which looks like achieving nothing other than the destruction of racing's illustrious fabric.

No wonder Ruby Walsh is considering limiting his appearances in Britain as like AP, he can't afford a second or third breach of the regulations as that'll mean a respective 10-day and 30-day suspension.

Unless the BHA review the rule a second time — they had to make initial amendments to prevent strike action by the jockeys — then the sport will suffer from all the wrong publicity brought about not by opponents of the whip, but by the stupidity of the regulators.

If there has to be a maximum number of strokes over hurdles and fences, it should be around 12, not an unworkable eight.

A first minor offence should be a warning, followed by two days suspension for a second breach and doubling then on for third and fourth etc. with no financial penalties.

Boylesports are offering 10-1 that Walsh and McCoy get banned in the same race this season. Unless a further review is undertaken by the BHA madarins, that scenario is not out of the question come the heat of battle at the likes of Cheltenham and Aintree.

As for the of banning Davy Russell last Saturday, that would have been scorned on this side of the pond where thankfully, the BHA writ doesn't run.

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