Woods Receives Second Suspension For Horse Whipping Offences

whips in horse racing

The issues surrounding the use of the whip in horse racing are sensitive topics that have been well trodden in more recent years, as the health and safety of our magnificent four legged friends came more into the spot light, both for the sport itself but also animal welfare campaigners up and down the country. When a jockey gets it wrong it will be headline news, and Kielan Woods is again at the centre of some controversy, as he has now received a second suspension for a breach of the rules.

Changes have been made down the years that have been widely, or at least largely, welcomed by most on both sides of the debate as a compromise was sought, and at the beginning of January 2023, the British Horseracing Authority announced that further tweaks would be made to the rules following criticism from jockeys. The changes certainly have not effected the excitement of meets in the calendar and for those who like a flutter, it has not dampened their interest either, if you have a look at these horse racing bookmakers, the various odds are as intriguing as ever.

Their issue at the time was that they were only able to use the whip in the backhand position, and they argued successfully that jockeys who had suffered shoulder or collarbone injuries could be unfairly disadvantaged, as the backhand position for them would be far more challenging.

With flat jockeys seeing a reduction to only using the whip a maximum of seven times (with jump jockeys limited to a maximum of eight), as the BHA accepted the backhand complaint, they compromised further by lowering the maximum number of times a whip could be used by one in an effort to achieve the same overall outcome, albeit through a slightly different approach.

As well as removing the ‘discretion’ previously granted to race stewards, every use of the whip would now count towards the threshold (unless clearly used for safety purposes) and the penalties for breaching the new rules were also set to be strengthened and increased further. Whilst there was a bedding in period so all involved could adjust to the new rules, they did come fully into play for jump jockeys on February 6, with full implementation applying to flat jockeys from March 27.

Back in June, Woods was one of four jockeys sanctioned for a breach, and he received a 42 day suspension for breaking the whip rules five times in just six months. Nine of the 42 days were suspended fox six months, and it did represent that heaviest penalty handed out amongst the four who appeared in front of the disciplinary panel at the time.

History has now unfortunately repeated itself for the jockey, as last Friday he had to again appear before the disciplinary panel having been charged with a further four counts of breaching the rules in a six month period.

Nine days have again been suspended for six months, as per his original punishment, so this time the rider will be sidelined for 36 days covering the period beginning January 20 and ending February 24.

Speaking after his latest sanction, he admitted that he had no excuses for the breaches, and simply had to take it on the chin and show further improvement in his style so it did not happen again.

“By the time I reach the end of this suspension I’ll have missed around a third of the last year through suspension and I’ve got no one to blame but myself. I’m going to spend this time off getting to the bottom of why I seem to have a mental block when it comes to this issue and making sure whatever the issue is, I get it fixed.”

With these rules undoubtedly under constant review, it will be interesting to see what further proposed changes may come to light in the future months of 2024.


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