http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009 ... 684055.htm
Trainers threaten to join jockey strike over whips
By Alison Caldwell for AM
Posted Sat Sep 12, 2009 3:00pm AEST
The threat to this year's Spring Racing Carnival has increased, with owners, trainers and now some stewards threatening to join jockeys striking next week over controversial new whipping rules.
Jockeys say they cannot be expected to adapt overnight to new rules, imposed by the Australian Racing Board, that limit the number of times they can whip horses to no more than 18 in one race.
They say they are prepared to lose millions of dollars in income if the controversial new rules stay in place.
Leading jockey Damien Oliver describes the rule change as one of the most significant changes in over a century of horse racing.
"These are some of the biggest changes that have been introduced to racing in over 100 years," he said.
"A jockey can't be expected to adapt overnight to these conditions."
"We're putting our lives at risk. We're the one that take the biggest ultimate risk."
Jockeys want what they describe as a minor change; over the final 100 metres of a race, they say using a whip should be at their discretion.
Some trainers were angry about the strike on Thursday, but others agree and support what the jockeys are doing.
Trainer Danny O'Brien is based in Melbourne.
"I'd certainly have a lot of sympathy for them," he said.
"I would support them in whatever they wanted to do, if they didn't think they were getting the outcome they deserved.
"It would seem to me to be incredible that you could sue someone for not putting their life at risk, if they choose not to ride.
"Unfortunately, the people who make the rules in the racing board aren't riders and haven't been riders."
Sydney-based trainer John O'Shea says he is considering joining jockeys if they decide to strike.
"I would suggest that the action will be a concerted effort over the next week as we coordinate efforts ... and you'll find that trainers won't nominate their horses if that's required," he said.
But chief executive of the Australian Racing Board, Andrew Harding, says it will not reverse the rule.
He says interested parties have had over eight months to come to grips with the rule change.
"Reforming the use of the whip in our sport was a necessary step, and the board's taken it," he said.
"The current rules were arrived at after a long period of consultation.
"They have now been in operation for five weeks. Something like 2,000 races have been run. They have been shown to be workable.
"The proposition that they are unworkable just hasn't been made out. The proposition that they are causing a safety problem is equally one that's not been made out."