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Appeasement is not the right approach; LETTERS.

I AM sure many share my disbelief over the new whip rules. In trying to fathom how racing's governing body came up with them I noted Brian Hughes's comments after he attended the BHA seminar at Wetherby when he said: "... we came close to losing the stick altogether". This was confirmed the following week by Kevin Darley of the Professional Jockeys Association.

If this is so, how is it that our sport's rulers, yet again, could be so weak as to allow themselves to negotiate on the basis that this was the only alternative? The comments also showed the BHA had taken into account the attitude of the public at large. If this is so it is highly regrettable.

I am aware of the animal welfare organisations, but who and where is this public so deferentially referred to by Alastair Down (September 28)? They are not watching at the moment: they do not read the Racing Post every day, they do not attend race meetings or generally watch racing on television. However, some are vociferous in the spring at the time of Cheltenham and the National.

What seems not to be realised is that these people, whoever they are, either do not like horseracing at all or are of the view that animals should have no place in sport and be nothing other than pets.

It is wonderful to see famous victories when horses such as Shergar, Generous and, recently, Frankel win by wide margins, but surely the purist also judges a horse by its toughness in a tight finish, and a major factor in this is its response to a forceful application of the whip.

Such use has always been an integral part of the sport. The course of racing history has often been dictated by it.

That is not to say that those jockeys noted for such use are any less skilful than those using it less, as implied by some.

A study of the 1977 Derby shows Willie Carson hit Hot Grove about as many times as Lester Piggott hit The Minstrel. Carson was noted for his hands-andheels approach; Piggott for the use of the whip. But that does not mean each did not just as effectively use the opposite approach when the circumstances required.

An annoying aspect to emerge is the claim that the whip is an instrument of encouragement and not coercion, when it is both. Such use of euphemism leads to casuistry and, ultimately, the losing of an argument. The Minstrel was not encouraged to win the Derby, he was coerced.

And so, once again, the guardians of our wonderful sport have let it down and, to my mind, driven another nail in its coffin, particularly the jumping branch which, clearly, has quite different things to justify.

They have not learned from history. Under pressure from the animal protection organisations they have, by one stroke of the pen, changed the entire character of racing. When will those who govern anything realise that to go to the negotiating table with appeasement in one's hand means it is one's opposite number who is in possession of the most powerful weapon? Almost completely neglected in all this, and shamefully so, is the serious punter, whether he is a pounds 10,000 on-thenose man or a 10p Lucky 15 backer. Soon he will see a new piece of jargon in the form book: "Would have won with more use of whip."

When that applies to a horse beaten a head in a race like the Derby we may as well all pack up and go home.

Hugh Haycocks Telford, Shropshire
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Oct 27, 2011
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