Whip bans and Careless Riding figures for January 2012, compared against the same month last year, show a mixed picture, though one which gives little comfort to those who hold fast to the idea that the BHA can afford simply to leave matters as they are. You can download a spreadsheet with full breakdown of the figures, but here are the headline stats:
Last month saw a total of 55 bans for whipping offences, with 322 days of bans handed out to jockeys. This compares against 60 offences (including cautions) for the same month last year – a fall of 8.3% – during which 103 days of bans were given – a rise of 212.6%. So although the number of offences is down, the total of bans has risen by an even larger percentage than was seen in December.
The number of offences on the All Weather Flat rose slightly (27 in 2012, from 26 in 2011) whilst the number of bans catapulted from 34 days up to 152 – a rise of 347.0%. There was a noticeable fall however in National Hunt offences (28 in 2012, 34 in 2011) although the number of bans was up from 69 to 170 – a rise of 146.4%.
One stat headlined by BHA has been the comparative reduction in the number of Careless/Dangerous riding offences since the new rules were introduced. Yet although January 2012 did indeed see a small reduction in such offences from 43 to 39, there were fewer cautions given out, and the number of bans given for careless riding was up by 21 days, from 53 to 74 – a rise of 39.6%. In other words, there’ve been slightly fewer but significantly more serious offences: not a stat which BHA can wield, even if a correlation between the draconian new whip penalties and careless riding could be demonstrated (which there’s no reason to believe is the case).
The evidence once again points to an uncomfortable truth. Unless BHA act swiftly to cauterise the bleeding, bad “public perception” and media coverage of the whip issue remains likely to overshadow showcase meetings such as the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals.
There is still time for BHA to act, but only just. It’s clear a major relaxation in the number of strokes allowed, in both codes, and a more intelligent use of “Stewards’ Discretion”, are the only answer if British Racing wants to see the number of bans for whip use fall back to parity even with the “old rules” (bad though they were). And if the tedious “debate” is to be put to bed, allowing BHA’s energies to be focussed on more important matters, a return to sensible “guidelines” rather than inflexible “rules” really is the only way to move forward.
That, at least, is clear from the January 2012 stats.
Jonathan da Silva said:
You surely need to put your figures into per ride and per race and surely median bans when one guy get 57 days makes more sense?
Was there not also considerably more NH races this year? Less bans
I agree it’s should be a licensing issue rather than keep this trail of bans up. So for National Hunt a quiet invitation to race somewhere else in June on a damp Tuesday would work better and give people a chance to show if they were capable of riding to UK standards. Except for egregious use they could let big race days go by and merely send a private warning say.
The authorities have created a situation by their fear of using the power they have always had. They seem to want to deter jockeys who have no intention of changing.
I agree, had we but world enough and time, that “per ride”, “per race” and median figures would be nice. However, I doubt that there were very many more NH races this year – the January weather wasn’t too bad in 2011, and so this time I thought the comparison was reasonably fair.
Median figures would also be informative, and not so hard to construct if the sample were large enough. But they are not so relevant when the whole point of this Rule Change is to “improve public perception”. Public perception – not least as fuelled by the likes of Animal Aid – is about headline figures, not medians, and from that point of view the huge rise in total bans is a PR disaster of the first water.
“Big Race Days” is what this was all supposed to be about: and few of them go by without media focus being directed to the bans rather than the brilliance.
I think the jockeys *are* trying to change: the NH figures perhaps point to that, and it’s their living which is being confiscated, after all. Many races seem to be settled by mutual agreement between the last two fences. But when it comes to the big Group 1’s, what option do they have but to ride to win? That’s why there’ll always be a PR black hole. And it’s also why this rule is unrealistic, and unworkable.
Lucan, ex-TRF, ex-BF, ex-where next? said:
To be hoped that the Scottish ba…rd has the decency to acknowledge that your arguments were right all along, Pinza.
I don’t expect any thanks from that quarter! In truth, I wasn’t a “lone voice in the wilderness” for very long, but if my lobbying and the minuscule help I’ve given to the PJA and other parties has done a tiny bit to help bring about the end of this entirely stupid and avoidable fiasco, then I feel that getting banned from TRF actually HELPED me to do that. Mr Cormack’s illogical removal of Pinza from TRF gave me the incentive to do something more constructive in defence of British horse racing than I’d have otherwise done.
Just heard on William Hill radio about the review of the rules [hmmm; Cheltenham looming and possibility of egg on faces]. More light at the end of the tunnel! I may even start having a few bets again, although I doubt that will have the bookies quaking in their boots……
Things are looking up, Mo – but we’re not quite there.
RSPCA are in disarray, now BHA have at last stood up to them, which is good. And Paul Bittar’s acknowledgement that the Whip Rule is “fundamentally flawed” makes a striking statement. But we need to see “discretion” from the Stewards in action to see whether the stroke counts – which are still, alas, in place – recede into the background.
If they remain controversial, and if the bans continue, the furore isn’t over yet. But though this isn’t the end, it is perhaps the end of the beginning. And that’s something.
Hold onto your money awhile yet!