Jockeys who intentionally abuse the whip rules could soon face disqualification as Australian racing prepares itself for major change.
Brian Kruger, the chairman of Racing Victoria, hinted on Wednesday that changes for misuse of the whip were imminent, especially around proposed harsher penalties for riders who deliberately disregard the whip regulations.
"I’d have to say the thing that frustrates me more personally is the intentional breeching of rules that has gone on," Kruger told RSN 927’s Racing Pulse program.
"It is not widespread, but we’ve seen it in some big races. It would have been a horrible look if a jockey breeched the whip rule in the Melbourne Cup and won the race and basically doing it intentionally.
"I can’t live with that. I just think that we have to make some changes in that area irrespective of if and when the actual rule changes happen.
"The penalties for intentional breeches of the rules in my mind is something we have to look at in the short term and it is something I know what was discussed at the (December) Chairman of Steward’s Conference.
"I won’t pre-empt what they are putting to Racing Australia out of that, but it is something that will be put in front of Racing Australia relatively soon."
Currently, jockeys face either a light suspension or a fine for breeching the whip rules but Kruger said the penalties are likely to change.
"Obviously, more significant penalties for the jockeys themselves - whether it be a longer suspension or a more significant monetary penalties all the way through to disqualification,’’ he said.
"I am sure stewards would have discussed those options.
"But whatever we do around the whip rules, has to be a national change.’’
Kruger said he felt that change will happen soon and that ultimately, the whip may by carried only for safety reasons.
"I think it’s something where we will see some material change in the rules around it probably in the shorter term rather than the medium term," he said.
"The only real arguments I have heard against making material changes has been we’re paying too much credence to welfare activists but I think the racing industry needs to understand that community perceptions are changing around these issues.
"The discussion will happen soon. How quickly we get a resolution, I am not sure.
"We have no doubt that whatever happens in terms of the rules themselves, the jockeys will still be able to carry a whip for safety reasons.
The finish of the 2019 Group 1 Melbourne Cup at Flemington, picture Quentinjlang.com