Racing New South Wales Chief steward Ray Murrihy says he has no issues with making an example out of Jim Cassidy after what he considered to be a blatant disregard for the rules on Saturday at Rosehill.
Cassidy copped a five week ban for ignoring the whip rules, the longest ban received by any jockey in the country since the laws were implemented in 2009.
It came just days after an article we published last week which spoke of the stewards somewhat lenient approach to enforcing the regulations.
Murrihy says their stance towards the whip rules haven’t changed, it’s just that the actions of Cassidy simply left them with no choice.
“If there is a slight error in judgment or a jockey incorrectly counts how many times they have hit a horse we are understanding,” Murrihy said.
“If they are one or maybe two over we understand things can happen in the heat of the battle but there was no mistake here,” he said.
Michael Rodd received a mere $1000 fine after his overuse of the whip (from Racing Victoria) on Red Cadeaux in the Melbourne Cup but stewards were keen to show they weren’t setting a precedent.
“You can’t have one jockey just doing whatever he likes when the rest are abiding by the rules,” he said.
“There has to be a level playing field and there has to be a deterrent or else jockeys will just start hitting horses as many times as they like, copping a $1000 fine and moving on.
“If that was the case then everyone would be doing it.
“Anyone who just disregards the rules has to pay a higher price.”
Cassidy’s ban comes not from a single incident but from a series of breaches, all up he was charged four times in two different events.
The first came from his ride on Lightinthenite where he struck the horse seven times more than allowed before the 100m post, including on consecutive strides.
It got worse on Zara Dancer though where Cassidy whipped the horse a massive 17 times prior to the final 100m, the current limit being just five.
He also did 11 of them on consecutive strides which is outlawed altogether.
“It was certainly out of character for Jimmy, he is called Pumper for his pumping action, not just whacking away,” Murrihy said.
“And he should have been well aware of the rules because we fined him earlier in the day for a minor indiscretion.”
This incident has raised some serious questions for stewards though given the possibility that Cassidy’s actions changed the outcome of a race.
The situation could be near when a protest is called on the back of a winning rider having used the whip too many times.
Given the stewards have spoken openly about their use of discretion it could be an extremely confusing and controversial predicament they find themselves in.