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Saunas, interference and the whip: the in-tray awaiting new PJA chief Paul Struthers

YORK, ENGLAND - MAY 16: A general view as jockeys leave the weighing room at York Racecourse on May 16, 2018 in York, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
There are plenty of major issues facing returning jockeys' chief Paul Struthers in the new yearCredit: Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)

Paul Struthers, the former PJA chief executive, is set to return to the organisation in the new year. So what will be waiting in his in-tray when he gets back behind the desk?

The whip

A lightning rod issue for jockeys, and racing as a whole, with the matter continuing to cause flashpoints. Data provided by the BHA for the period between the implementation of the new whip rules in February and the end of last month showed whip offences at their lowest levels since the changes came in. Nevertheless, Dale Gibson, who has been PJA interim chief executive and will return to his role as racing director, said more work needed to be done to bring offences down for amateur, conditionals, apprentices and foreign-licensed jockeys riding in Britain. Struthers has been outspoken about the new whip rules, writing in a blog in June about how the penalties riders were being given were “ridiculously disproportionate” and how they were having a “significant impact, both mentally and financially, on jockeys”. The whip rules have already undergone five revisions since they were approved by the BHA board last year, and it would not be a surprise if further lobbying were to take place under Struthers’ regime.


An issue that exploded during the summer. Riders loudly expressed their dissatisfaction at how the permanent removal of racecourse saunas was impacting their ability to manage their weight effectively. A number of senior riders demanded the BHA and racecourses perform a U-turn on the issue. However, while sympathetic to jockeys, neither indicated such a change would take place. Nevertheless, given the strength of feeling among riders – with Derby-winning jockey Adam Kirby forced into taking a break from riding due to his weight, for example – negotiations around helping jockeys manage their weight are likely to be on the table.

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Peter ScargillDeputy industry editor

Published on 20 November 2023inBritain

Last updated 19:44, 20 November 2023