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Risk now too big for Ruby

A week and a half ago Richard Hughes handed in his licence due to the new whip rules enforced on British racing, and although he returned last Friday after alterations were made, a divide remained in the weighroom among jockeys.

Just over 24 hours later at Aintree there was a delay to the second last race as jockeys were reluctant to leave the weighroom in anger at Ruby Walsh's five-day ban which he picked up for winning the previous race on the Paul Nicholls-trained Edgardo Sol by just a nose.

Walsh was disgusted by the decision of the stewards to give him a five-day ban which rules him out of Down Royal's Grade One JNWine.com Champion Chase day at the beginning of next month.

Yesterday Walsh stuck to his vow not to return to ride in England as regularly due to the risk of facing a 10-day ban and Walsh could also now miss the enviable ride in the Charlie Hall Chase on Poquelin for Paul Nicholls.

The Kildare native will not be in action at Chepstow tomorrow as was previously planned and he will also skip Wetherby on Friday. "I'm not going to Chepstow on Tuesday and I won't be in Wetherby on Friday, and I'll have a look at declarations for the Charlie Hall (on Saturday) before deciding whether to go for that or not," Walsh said yesterday.

He continued: "I'm facing a 10-day suspension the next time I offend. I didn't offend on purpose yesterday and I won't be offending on purpose ever again but 10 days is what I'm looking at so every ride I take in the UK from now on has to be extremely calculated. It has to be worth the risk.

"In the UK for the prize-money that's there, it's not worth the risk. I've got too many commitments to Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls to be doing that."

It was only the eighth time this season that Walsh had rode in the UK and he added: "The rules are well regulated here in Ireland. They are discretionary and common sense is used. I think that is the bit that is missing in England. Common sense seems to have gone out the window."

Head of the Professional Jockeys Association Kevin Darley was again calling on the BHA to review the situation, claiming: "The penalties are horrendous. Jockeys are trying to remain competitive and that is what they are struggling with. The objective was to reduce the amount of whip breaches and, as we have seen, these new rules have been put in place and if we carry on like we are they will be doubled."

Darley feels the competitive nature of the sport is being lost. "There is no buffer for them at all," he said.

"Once they go one hit over they get a five-day suspension, when they go two hits over they get a seven-day suspension and any prize-money taken away. They are taking the competitiveness away from them.

"It is not acting as a deterrent because jockeys are still getting banned so we really need to look at these rules again."

Considering Racing For Change was set up to attract people to British racing, the BHA are rapidly doing a good job of pushing punters and racegoers away from the sport and that will continue as long as they deny them of the likes of Richard Hughes and Ruby Walsh.