10/14/2011 4:29PM

British jockeys back off from strike threat


British flat jockeys threatened to strike on Monday, and then backed away from the threat, pending a meeting on Monday between officials of the jockeys' organization and that nation's regulatory body over recent changes in rules related to the use of whips.

The new rules, implemented on Oct. 10, limit a flat jockey to seven strikes with the whip and limits jump jockeys to eight strikes. In addition, the minimum suspension was increased to five days, with financial penalties also put in place.

On a related note, Richard Hughes, one of Britain's top riders, abruptly quit on Thursday after receiving two suspensions earlier in the week for whip violations. The suspensions ruled Hughes out of the Breeders' Cup races at Churchill Downs next month. Hughes was scheduled to ride top contender Strong Suit in the BC Mile.

A meeting between the nation's regulatory board, the British Horseracing Authority, and the Professional Jockeys Association is scheduled for Monday to discuss the rule changes. The meeting was arranged late Friday.

Earlier on Friday, jockeys appeared poised to go on strike on Monday.

Flat race meetings at Pontefract, in the north of England, and Windsor, west of London, were jeopardized. Those racing days, along with a steeplechase meeting at Plumpton, south of London, will now go ahead, without an apparent disruption.

Jockeys were quoted in the British press on Friday stating they wanted discussions with the racing authority this weekend. The riders are seeking changes to the type of penalties issued and clarification of the rules that were altered.