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New whip rules: Gordon Elliott says frightening new rulings threaten to overshadow Cheltenham Festival

Elliott joins the likes of Sean Bowen, Sean Quinlan and Willie Mullins on the growing list of racing personalities taking aim at the new whip rules; whip offences with large bans threaten to see jockeys suspended for the Cheltenham Festival

Gordon Elliott
Image: Gordon Elliott has hit out at the new whip rules set to come into place next week.

Gordon Elliott has added his voice to the list of trainers who have concerns over the introduction of the new whip rules, insisting the consequences ahead of jump racing's two major festivals could be "frightening".

New regulations are set to come into force on February 13 which include reducing how many times the whip can be used and a toughening up of the penalty structure.

The very worst whip offences could result in disqualification of horses and riding bans of 20 days - a tariff which will be doubled in class one and two races - with a soft launch having been in place since January 9.

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Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins have both called for the British Horseracing Authority to push back the start date for the implementation, along with a number of senior riders on both sides of the Irish Sea, who have also aired their misgivings.

Elliott said: "It's frightening. To think it's coming in only a couple of weeks before a massive festival, it's frightening.

"Listening to Sean Bowen and a few of the lads in England, they're kind of having to change their style of riding altogether. I don't think it's good, especially heading into Cheltenham.

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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.

"Someone was saying Davy Russell would have broken a rule riding Mighty Potter the other day and I'm not sure if he hit him more than two or three (times), but it was because his hand rose a certain height. I don't know what's going to happen."

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He went on: "Obviously the jockeys are all going to have to do a lot of work on it, but it's not really healthy going into Cheltenham.

"We could be short of riders for the Grand National! It's frightening if you think four or five jockeys got suspended."

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There were 44 referrals to the whip review committee - which will be responsible for handing out suspensions under the new system - during the first week of the 'bedding-in' period but in subsequent weeks numbers have not been published.

The BHA announced last week that it would review "the manner in which the rules and guidance are being applied" both by raceday stewards and the committee but there are no plans to alter any specific rules or guidance.

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