Whip rules ‘a joke’
Ciaron Maher has called for an immediate overhaul of the whip rules, terming the current regulations ‘a joke’ after jockey James McDonald was heavily penalised last Saturday for his ride aboard boom three-year-old Catalyst at Flemington.
Maher said stewards need to use their discretion when dealing with whip infractions, claiming McDonald’s action in using the whip 21 times in total when runner-up to Alligator Blood in the C.S. Hayes Stakes was akin to him ‘swatting flies’.
“The stewards need to be stewards,” Maher said at the Werribee trials on Tuesday.
“They know when someone breaks the whip rules. It’s very obvious. To me, that wasn’t at all. I don’t agree with it at all.
“Those horses were quickening themselves. The jockeys were just staying in rhythm with them.
“I think it’s a joke. He (McDonald) didn’t even flick the whip up. He used it backhand. He was basically swatting flies.
“I think we need to stop pandering to these groups or whoever. Racing is racing. Obviously, everyone supports and gets behind the push for horse welfare. It’s good for the horse and good for the industry.
“But James McDonald, he was in rhythm. He never flicked the whip up.
“A jockey knows when a horse is trying his best and those jockeys (McDonald and Ryan Maloney on Alligator Blood) knew that. That’s why James never flicked the whip up as the horse was trying its best.
“Then, to hit (McDonald) him with that (six-meeting suspension and $1700 fine)?”
“The rule is wrong. Maybe we could look at it (whip) being used so many times during the whole race
and it’s up the jockey’s discretion to use it and if they go over a limit, then it’s up to the stewards to use their discretion.
“This, ‘you’ve hit it one too many times and therefore it’s going to change the result’ – I don’t think so. The rule needs to be looked at.”
The rules permit a jockey five strikes before the 100-metre mark but as many as three more strikes are permitted as long as there are not more than 15 strikes in total. McDonald used his whip on Catalyst seven times before the 100-metre mark and then on 14 consecutive strides to the line.
Trainer Mick Price said the onus should be on the stewards to rule on what constitutes a serious breach but said stewards are dealing with an inexact science.
“At the end of the day, it’s going to be a matter of opinion in the stewards’ room,” he said. “There is no measurement that you can use. There are too many variables.”