15 Oct 2011

Jockey gives up licence over whip rules

5:57 am on 15 October 2011

Leading jockey Richard Hughes has given up his licence in protest at British horse racing's new tougher whip rules after being banned for the second time in a week.

The 38-year-old Irishman, stable jockey to champion trainer Richard Hannon for whom he has ridden a stream of big-race winners, was hit with a five-day ban on Monday, the first day the rules came into effect in England.

He fell foul of the regulations again when riding More Than Words in a race at Kempton on Thursday. This time he was banned for a further 10 days because it was his second such offence.

Hughes says it's like telling Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi not to use his left foot anymore and he'll only consider starting again if there is a review of the rules.

He says he'd rather sweep roads than do half a job.

Unless Hughes makes an about-turn, he will miss the eagerly anticipated Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday, the richest day's racing in Britain, and the Breeders' Cup meeting in the United States next month.

The British Horse Racing Authority last month announced stricter penalties for jockeys who overuse the whip including the loss of riding fees and prize money, a move that appears to have fostered a growing resentment amongst both flat and jumps jockeys.