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Harding 1: Differing Whip Penalties "Fundamentally Unfair"
In the on-going brouhaha following the weekend fining of jockey Michael Rodd for improper use of the whip on Faint Perfume at Rosehill, Australian Racing Board chief executive Andrew Harding told columnist Patrick Smith in The Australian that he "agrees a situation where penalties are not the same for every rider in Australia is fundamentally unfair". Harding agreed "same-crime, same-time is just commonsense. To have a situation where jockeys who have committed the same breach of the rules are receiving very different penalty outcomes, based solely on the state or territory in which they are penalised, is fundamentally unfair. This is why the ARB produced a set of national guidelines for whip rule breaches. The Australian Jockeys Association not only signed off on these, it helped write them." Harding emphasised the decision by the Victorian Racing And Disciplinary Board last October that "squashed a suspension handed out to Craig Williams for abuse of the whip rule substantially scuppered the national approach" & declared: "It was a lamentable decision. All the more so because it was in part based on a complete misapprehension of what the ARB said at the time about the stewards exercising discretion. The RAD board chairman (Russell Lewis) took a line out of an ARB media release & said we were removing the stewards' penalty discretion. This totally misconstrued what was in the media release. The discretion which we said would be policed was the new jockeys' discretion in the last 100m." Harding asserted bluntly that "2 things are clear: 1st, if we want to avoid debate about misuse of the whip in close finishes then penalties for breaches need to be real deterrents, not token gestures; 2nd, if we want national consistency then it isn't going to miraculously happen - we need national penalty guidelines."