Jockeys, officials avert boycott for now
A planned UK jockeys' strike over new whip regulations was averted late Friday after the race authorities and riders agreed to meet, Sky Sports reported.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) moved to calm the situation after jockey protests threatened to boil over, and called representatives of the riders to a Monday board meeting to discuss their grievances, in the wake of top jockey Richard Hughes' decision to quit after being hit with two bans.
Earlier in the day jockeys said they would boycott races Monday in protest against the regulations, which introduced new limits to the number of times a horse can be struck with the whip during a race.
The protest movement was sparked when Hughes announced he was handing in his riding license after being issued with a 15-day ban following his second breach of the new rules, which came into effect Monday. Announcing his decision Thursday night, Hughes said, "I'd rather sweep roads than do half a job."
The revised rules allow jockeys to whip the horse seven times during the race, with five of those strikes permitted in the final furlong. Hughes was twice found guilty of whipping his ride six times in the final furlong.
A statement from the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) late Friday said it welcomed the invitation to attend the meeting, and that the association would take the opportunity to develop the points that it raised in written proposals and recommendations submitted to the BHA concerning the new whip rules.
The PJA added that it recommended that jockeys who were independently considering not racing on Monday should now take their planned rides.
A statement from the BHA on Friday evening confirmed the two sides would meet. In a veiled reference to rumors of a strike at the three tracks due to race on Monday, the BHA statement said, "In light of the positive dialogue taking place between the BHA and the PJA we urge everyone involved in racing to engage with this process and to work with us to take the sport forward with no disruption to the racing programme."