Willie Mullins believes the full introduction of new whip rules should be delayed until the end of the current British jumps season.
New regulations are set to come into force on February 13, with the British Horseracing Authority continuing to allow the use of the whip in the forehand position, having reversed a previous decision to ban it after objections from jockeys, although permitted use of the whip has been reduced while also toughening up 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.
A number of riders have voiced their misgivings about fully implementing the rules next week, with British champion trainer Paul Nicholls calling for the BHA to push back the start date until the current campaign has concluded.
While Mullins described the regulations as “jockeys’ business”, he feels it would be better to wait until the new season to make such significant changes, ruling out the possibility of high-profile winners at either Cheltenham or Aintree being overshadowed or impacted by whip contraventions.
He said: “I don’t do whip rules, that’s jockeys’ business. If they lose races then it’ll be my business then, but I’m absolutely keeping out of whip rules.
“Why do they always bring up this before Cheltenham? It should be done after Cheltenham during the off-season. It’s like bringing in new rules before the semi-finals and final of the World Cup in soccer.
“It’s a shooting yourself in the foot job. They’re highlighting the whole thing for the wrong reasons and it should be done before a new season like in any other sport, trial it somewhere if you want.
“I wouldn’t even bother reading about it now. That’s my jockeys’ problem.”
The first week of the ‘bedding in’ period produced 44 referrals to the whip review committee, which will be responsible for handing out suspensions under the new system, while numbers for subsequent weeks have not been published.
The BHA announced last week that while it was not considering altering specific rules or guidance, it would review “the manner in which the rules and guidance are being applied” both by raceday stewards and the committee.