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Hughes walks away amid whip row

Richard Hughes has pledged to relinquish his riding licence with immediate effect until there is a review of the British Horseracing Authority's new whip rules after picking up a second ban this week at Kempton on Thursday evening.

New rules which came into effect on Monday state a Flat rider can only hit a horse seven times with the whip, with just five of those strikes allowed inside the final furlong. Jockeys found in breach also forfeit their riding fee and any percentage of prize-money won.

Hughes told Racing UK: "I've handed my licence in until further notice. I've been trying to obey the rules this week and when the rules came in we all thought seven was a fair number, but then they set a trap by saying you could only hit them five in the last furlong."

He added: "The new rules mean you actually hit them more, as you have to get two into them before the furlong pole and then you have five for the final furlong. I was always told as a young lad the last jockey to go for stick usually wins. I don't think I can do my owners justice any more.

"It's my own decision. I gave her (More Than Words) a couple of slaps when she needed them but I am not a whip jockey. Both times I've been done I've hit them six times (in the final furlong). I've got a 15-day ban because of it and I miss the Breeders' Cup. What about the owner of Strong Suit - he's a tricky horse and you have to know how to ride him.

"(My colleagues) are bitterly disappointed, and it's only a matter of time before they get done.

"How many times have you seen AP McCoy win races he should never have won, by persevering and getting them rolling.

"Until the rules are resolved I won't be riding. I'd rather retire. I can't ride horses like this. It's like telling Lionel Messi he can't use his left foot."

Irishman Hughes, narrowly beaten in last season's title race by Paul Hanagan, was given a five-day suspension on the first afternoon the rules were put into effect, and he got another 10 at Kempton when finishing a neck second on More Than Words in the Play Rainbow Riches At Maiden Fillies' Stakes.

The severity of the punishment was due to the fact it was his second offence. He must sit out October 29-31, November 1-5 and 9-10, meaning he will miss Strong Suit in the Breeders' Cup. The stewards later fined Hughes £290 for giving up his remaining Kempton rides, on Fanny May and Thank You Joy.


From Belfast Telegraph