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September 16, 2009

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Jockeys in Australia reach pact on whip rule

JOCKEYS and the Australian Racing Board reached agreement yesterday on a controversial and complicated rule that limits the number of times a jockey can whip a horse in the latter stages of a race.

Under the new rules introduced on August 1, jockeys were restricted to three consecutive strikes on one occasion inside the final 200 meters, and from then on could only use the whip every second stride.

At the same time, padded whips were implemented.

The new rules were praised by some animal rights groups but jockeys and race officials said the rule was unfair and took the rider's concentration away from the race.

Jockeys went on a one-day national strike last week in protest.

The revised rule agreed yesterday allows jockeys to whip the horse on alternate strides inside the final 200 meters of a race, but they can now use the whip a total of seven times in the last 100 meters.

Running rails on Australian race tracks will be painted from the 200-meter mark to the winning post to make it easier to ensure rules are enforced.

Victorian jockeys representative Ross Inglis said the revision made sense.

"We are hopeful this rule will be implemented by Saturday," Inglis told Australian Associated Press.

"I wouldn't say it's a big win, maybe a short half head.

"This also removes the threat of any possible industrial action in relation to racing around Australia."


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