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Whip splits sport again as riders call rules ‘ridiculous’


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Leading jockeys fear the run-up to the Cheltenham Festival will be littered with bans over new riding restrictions

“As a collective of jockeys, we’re all together,” Nico de Boinville said after winning the first race on Friday, a clear sign that, despite general delight that the card had beaten the frost, there is a storm brewing ahead of the introduction of new whip rules by the British Horseracing Authority in the run-up to Cheltenham’s Festival meeting in March.

De Boinville was echoing the view of Harry Cobden, the No 1 jockey to Paul Nicholls, the champion trainer, who described the new rules as “bloody ridiculous” after riding a winner at Taunton on Thursday. Under the new regime, riders will be banned from using their whips in the forehand position – the most natural way for a majority of riders to use their stick – and while there will be a four-week “bedding-in” period before penalties are enforced, a single use in the forehand position after 6 February could lead to a seven-day ban, or two weeks if it occurs in a Class 1 or Class 2 event.

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