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Horse Racing: Nicholls warns against single-file rule on roads.

Byline: By Graham Green

PAUL NICHOLLS has thrown his support behind the campaign opposing a new addition to the Highway Code that would ban riding horses two abreast on narrow and busy roads.

The champion trainer and Racing Post columnist is an enthusiastic advocate of the practice, which he operates every day as his string travel to and from the Ditcheat gallops, and he insists it is beneficial to equine safety.

Support from the racing community for the recently launched British Horse Society petition is gathering pace after National Trainers' Federation chief executive Rupert Arnold brought it to the attention of his members.

Nicholls said: "We have to use the roads a lot here and if the string is two abreast, instead of having 20 in line, you only have ten in line, and it takes the traffic half the time to go past. Also, having two horses abreast encourages drivers to slow down, which is again important from the point of view of preventing accidents.

"Another aspect is that some horses and novice riders need covering up, which wouldn't be possible if they are in single file."

Nicholls added: "We have always had the horses two abreast on the roads and never had a problem with anybody, and in my opinion it would be ridiculous to ban it. I would hope other trainers and riders who have to use the roads will support the petition and hopefully the government can be persuaded to change its mind."

The petition, which can be found on the Downing Street website and has a closing date of August 13, had yesterday attracted almost 15,500 signatures. It lists among valid reasons for riding two abreast, "groups of riders, nervous horses, novice riders, and defensive riding on winding country lanes where there is insufficient room for a car to pass a single horse safely".

Any breaches of the amendment to the Highway Code, if introduced, could potentially be used in evidence in any court proceedings under the Traffic Acts in order to establish liability in an accident.

Arnold said: "I'm sure this is an issue for a lot of trainers, because it is important to be able to protect young and inexperienced horses when they are using the road by riding two horses abreast."

The petition can be signed at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Horseriding/.

CAPTION(S):

Paul Nicholls' string travel two abreast, while the mocked-up sign on the right could soon be a common sight on roads
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 19, 2007
Words:415
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