Racing: Jockeys strike over whip ruling

By Chris Riordan

Racing’s hopes of leaving the jumps drama behind and cashing in on the spring carnival hit a metaphorical hurdle this afternoon when, mid-meeting at Ballarat, Victoria’s jockeys called an immediate strike upon hearing that the Australian Racing Board had dismissed their calls for change.

The move to place clear restrictions on whip use, implemented from August 1, while noble in itself, was always going to cause trouble. Probably best now before the major races. Flamboyant owner John Singleton loudly declared weeks ago that he would doubly reimburse any fines imposed on a winning jockey of his!

Jockeys had asked the ARB to reconsider part of the ruling, asking for the limitations to not apply within the final 100 metres, where jockeys could use the best measures possible to get the best result. The ARB says the industry needs to give the rules time to prove effective.

Today’s action, widely endorsed in its goals, was not without critics. Outspoken trainer Rick Hore-Lacy thought the jockeys selfish, bitterly lamenting his long day floating a horse to a race that would not take place. Given that Queensland’s jocks decided to join the action after Ipswich’s fifth, and Hawkesbury’s hoops also pulled the pin, there is the danger that many more races will not take place if remedial action is not taken tonight.


  1. The racing industry realises that it is in a competitive marketplace for leisure and gambling interest and money. Good image is critical. So should good management be also.
    Much of the motivation to alter whip regulations was to improve perception, to ensure no tales of floggings or accusations of cruelty. The jumps lobby can deal with that themselves.
    Instead, though, we’ll have “WHIP” as a lead sports story as the ARB and jockeys have pushed themselves in to opposing corners. Sometimes perceived as a toothless tiger (remember AFC in footy?) but recently active in securing better deals for jockeys, the ARB have said the trial period runs until February.
    Jockeys, upon hearing of the failed appeal, have gone on strike!
    Where to from here?
    I reckon the jockey’s task is to do what he can to safely get his horse first to the post. The stewards are empowered to severely punish any infractions.
    It is getting, sadly, very murky.
    The publicity can only be negative for our great sport.
    I’m dipping in to the Winning Post now, but aware that Saturday’s races, and thus the path of Spring, could be imperiled.

  2. In a belated face-saving move, parties have agreed to suspend action until Monday.
    Shambolic, but at least I can get in to Saturday’s form now!

  3. This whole saga is getting less palatable, and not helped by The Age front-page bracketing it with trots and crime figures. Already a PR disaster, it promises to further unravel. Solidarity from owners and trainers, who it had been assumed were totally supportive, is fractured. Trainers seem to be running with the “support the concept not the action” whilst Lloyd Williams, who is a bit of both, was scathing. He has put on his old businessman/strikebreaker’s hat and gone to the old “we’ll use apprentices” claim. This, if the trainers were committed, would not happen. The confusion now is in whose interests is this action representing? Jockeys assumed that punters, owners, trainers and themselves were all on the same page. The ARB has stood firm. Overseas commenteators are less alarmed by the rules, which are a modification of some already practised elsewhere, than by the fallout. The Silver-Bodgie (R.J.L Hawke)himself may have one great encore left in his negotiating resume if we are to refocus racing on to the track and the stars.

  4. Mark Freeman says

    The ARB are clearly a bunch of muppets, it’s bloody outrageous that they’re insisting on that ridiculous last 200 crap, I’d be very happy to see the little guys stick it to em and strike until theír amendment is accepted.

    Bossy, Damo, there is power in a union.

    Not only is it a safety issue, but racing people have been saying it long and loud: It’s gonna cause serious pain.

    Scenario is a cup or Cox Plate, last 100m. One jockey sticks to rules, loses by short half head to jockey who whips like a circus ring master. Whipping jockey fined and suspended, but owner has already arranged pre-race to pay jockey’s fine, fees sling and holiday pay. Result stands, losing owners go to court, protracted battle, in short: debacle.

  5. Clearly the issue is all about the perception rather than the reality – which is, sadly, a reflection of the times in which we live.
    Records for taking the high moral ground are being broken daily!!

    The jockeys are correct in fact but misguided in their response. They must ensure that they maintain the support of the rank and file and not alienate themselves such that others have no choice but to oppose them, and as a consequence, their cause.

  6. Chris, did Mick use more than his last lap quota last night. Enquiry is in order. Phantom

  7. Rutten might become Rattan..he may get the flogging.

  8. I was hoping that the Pies would get the flogging next week.

  9. The ARB and the Jockeys have reached an uneasy truce, the details of which are secondary to the outcome which is that interruptions to the Spring Carnival appear to have been averted.
    Essentially,the jockeys can whip their mounts only on alternate strides inside the final 200 metres of a race, but they can now use the whip a total of seven times, at their discretion, in the final 100 metres.
    A painted rail will reinforce the 200 metre distance.

  10. correction: painted rail to signify final 100m.

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