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France Implements On-the-Day DQs for Whip Strikes

France Galop has announced that disqualification for what it describes as “manifest abuse of the whip” will be introduced Sept. 1, a sanction triggered at nine or more strikes.

Unlike in Britain and the United States, where similar regulatory changes have been made, any decision will be administered by race day stewards before the ‘weighed-in’ announcement, meaning punters will be paid out on the revised result and not the finishing order.

The ruling body unveiled a reduction in the number of permitted strikes reduced from five to four in February, a measure which came into force on the Flat and over jumps from May 1.

The following month the France Galop committee adopted a further modification to the rule, announcing that disqualification would be introduced in the near future. There have been just two instances of horses being disqualified since the rules were changed in Britain, in both cases for losing rides.

The much lower limit of four strokes of the whip for both codes in France means in effect that any jockey breaking the rules has more room for maneuver before disqualification, even though the trigger point is nine, against 10 on the Flat and 11 over jumps in Britain, where the limits are six and seven for each code.

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The British Horseracing Authority established a whip referral committee to consider cases in the week after they are committed, meaning that any disqualification affects the distribution of prize money but not the settling of bets on a horse whose rider has breached the limit.

France Galop’s whip rules are presided over within the same overall stewarding structure as all other racecourse regulations, meaning decisions will be taken on the day and before bettors are paid out.

The French rules now have essentially three levels of transgression; minor, which constitutes five or six strikes; more serious (seven or eight strikes); and “manifestly abusive”, which is nine or more, and will result in the horse being disqualified.

Sanctions on jockeys are calibrated according to how many times they breach the whip rules, and range from a fine of €150 for a first, minor infraction, up to a 30-day suspension for repeat offenders. As in Britain, stewards are more severe in Group races, with a five-day ban the entry point for going one or two over, and a minimum of 10 days for more serious breaches.

France has led the way in Europe when it comes to reducing the permitted number of strikes, moving incrementally from eight prior to March 2017 to the current four. The 2023 version of the rule counts any strike—including a slap down the neck—when both a jockey’s hands are not in contact with the reins.

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