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Whip rule changes: Champion trainer Paul Nicholls calls for delay until after spring festivals amid jockey backlash

New whip rules are set to come into effect on February 13, with jockeys facing severe penalties for raising their hand coming above head height; Harry Cobden has claimed he would have received a 24-day ban for winning ride on Il Ridoto at Cheltenham on Saturday

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Top jockey Luke Morris says riders and officials will have to 'work together' to adapt to new whip rules, set to come into place next month.

Multiple champion trainer Paul Nicholls has called for the introduction of the new whip rules to be delayed until after the major spring festivals.

Nicholls took to social media to condemn the proposed new regulations after it was suggested his stable jockey Harry Cobden would have picked up a 24-day ban for his winning ride on Il Ridoto at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The same was also said of Sean Bowen, currently second in the jockeys' championship behind Brian Hughes, for his successful ride on Back On The Lash in the Cross Country Chase.

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The new rules, which are due to come into force on February 13, include severe penalties for jockeys raising their hand coming above head height.

Jockeys are currently riding within a 'bedding-in' period where the current regulations apply for sanctions purposes, but riders are being advised if they would have breached the new rules.

Nicholls tweeted: "Two fantastic top rides. How they can get bans is beyond me. Cobden excelled on Il Ridoto. This all needs postponing until after the spring festivals otherwise this is all going to be a disaster for the sport. For once common sense needs to prevail."

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Jockey Harry Cobden has called on the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) to review a new whip rule set to come into effect this month which could see riders face lengthy suspensions for raising their hand above their head.

Explaining what occurred after the race, Cobden told Sky Sports Racing: "I got called in straight after the race to the stewards' room.

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"I had given the horse two flicks in the backhand and three in the forehand after the last fence just to encourage him to go past the horse I was upsides at the time.

"There was no excessive force, it didn't look wrong and no one was offended by the ride.

"They froze three images where my hand was ever so slightly over my head. After the enquiry, I asked the stewards, off the mic, how many days that would be and they said: 'It's going to be something around 24 days'".

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French racing expert Laurent Barbarin says it is only a matter of time until the use of the whip is completely banned in the country amid reports France Galop are set to lower the whip count from five to four.

Cobden wants the BHA now to rethink the wording of the rule and admit he fears the possibility of getting a lengthy ban and missing the Cheltenham Festival in March.

"It's the only issue that every jumps jockey has got a problem with. It's quite worrying going into the big festivals.

"Over shoulder height with excessive force is not acceptable but from my experience on Saturday, as an example, I think that's perfectly good race riding."

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The British Horseracing Authority, however, underlined the stewards are not responsible for the length of the bans as that will fall under the remit of the Whip Review Committee that will regularly meet on Tuesdays.

On its Twitter account, the said: "The BHA is aware of information being posted on social media speculating about potential 'suspensions' under the new whip rules. Please note this information is not accurate as the Whip Review Committee have not yet met this week to consider the rides in the period 16 - 29 Jan.

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Former jockey Freddy Tylicki is in agreement with the decision to continue allowing the forehand use of the whip, a change made by the BHA following backlash from riders.

"Also, a reminder that no suspensions are being imposed at present. The purpose of the bedding-in period is to provide riders with information as to where adaptations to riding style might be needed ahead of full implementation of the rules on 13 Feb."

A previously scheduled meeting will take place in the coming days between the BHA, Professional Jockeys Association and trainers and jockeys as part of the ongoing discussion surrounding the new rules, but not on the back of the fallout of last weekend's racing.

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