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Jockeys hit by whip crackdown

By Chris McGrath

After a period of hibernation, the new whip rules resurfaced on racing's emotional register yesterday when two jockeys — albeit at opposite extremes of the spectrum — picked up a staggering 74 days' suspension between them.

One, Robert Cooper, is an amateur whose unfettered riding in a maiden hurdle at Uttoxeter on New Year's Day may be presumed to reflect his hunger for a first success in 12 years.

But the other was Robert Winston, a senior professional whose 22-day ban at Southwell reopened wounds that had been responding to the healing efforts of both riders and regulators.

Winston was found to have used his whip both excessively and in the forehand position, down the shoulder, in narrowly failing to get Zenarinda past an odds-on favourite. As a second offence within 12 months, the stewards upgraded their punishment.

“I'm absolutely disgusted,” Winston said. “I get penalised heavily for trying to win a race, and trying to prevent an accident.

“It's an absolute joke. I've been riding 15 years and it feels an insult” he added.

Fearing a collision with Leonna Mayour's mount, Winston said that he had used the stick “three times in the forehand as a safety measure”.

He suggested these strikes should duly be disregarded, and that he had otherwise kept to the new limit of seven, in using the stick behind the saddle.

Cooper's case, meanwhile, was not without a certain pathos.

He had been summoned to appear before the BHA disciplinary panel after hitting Elton Fox, a length winner, no fewer than 23 times — 15 more than is now permitted in a race over jumps.

Moreover on a dozen occasions he was found to have used the whip without giving his mount time to respond. He was duly suspended for 52 days when amateur races are scheduled.

There was a corresponding show of emotion, then, when Cooper contrived another rare winner at Fontwell yesterday.

Passing the post well clear on Mortimers Cross, he threw his whip away.

Larne trainer Stuart Crawford’s Best Legend — with Ulster jockey Peter Buchanan on board — won the Wakefield Beginners Chase at Catterick.

Dark Matter landed the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial at Meydan.

Belfast Telegraph

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