The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is looking into the possibility of increasing the severity of penalties it hands out to jockeys who use modified whips after controversy at Chelmsford back in September.
Danny Brock was found to have used a whip with two elastic bands wrapped around the end, and his horse – Resurrected – was found to have several weal marks on her hind quarters after being inspected by a vet on the course.
According to their current rules, Brock could only be fined a paltry £140, although a disciplinary panel later upgraded that to a seven-day ban. And the BHA believes that such a punishment does not reflect the seriousness of the crime.
Their chief regulatory officer, Brant Dunshea, said:
“The use of modified whips is not something that can be tolerated. The rules of racing are clear on this and the welfare of our horses is our primary concern.
“There have been no other cases identified of modified whips being used in a number of years.
“The BHA feels that the standard penalties for an offence of this nature do not seem sufficient, and will address this specifically when considering the Horse Welfare Board’s broader research and recommendations regarding the whip.”
In their investigations, the BHA found only four horses had suffered weals from whip use in the past four years – a period which covers more than 270,000 runners.
Under current rules, whips are randomly checked by clerks on the course, but it is believed that the BHA will not increase their equipment checks and make them compulsory when jockeys weigh in.
Suspect Betting Patterns Add Further Intrigue
This is not an open-and-shut case of an ill-informed jockey breaking the rules, unknowingly or not.
Resurrected had finished seventh, eight and tenth in her previous three starts, giving up more than 80 lengths to the winners of those outings.
And yet, in the Moving Made Easy Classified Stakes at Chelmsford on September 19, she was backed in from an opening 100/1 to 25/1, before further money came in the betting circle to pushed her in to 20/1. In her three previous runs, she had gone off at 50/1, 66/1 and 150/1 respectively.
The three-year-old filly, trained by Phillip McBride and purchased for £10,000 from Tattersalls’ Breeze Up sale back in 2018, was one of the country’s lowest-rated horses in training prior to hosing up in the Grade Six outing.
McBride told a stewards’ inquiry that a drop in trip and the improving form of his yard was to explain for the win, and that punters must have been savvy to that.
The stewards’ report read:
“Philip McBride was interviewed. His comments that the filly had benefited from the drop in trip to six furlongs and the yard were in better form at present were noted.”
McBride’s yard did enjoy a double win at Yarmouth just 48 hours prior to Resurrected’s triumph, and that ended a 15-race losing streak. Brock, meanwhile, has a 9% win rate this season with eight victories from 87 starts.