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Momentum builds towards change in whip regulations

“When I was an apprentice, everyone wanted to be Mick Dittman or Greg Hall and ride with the whip like them. You look at that now and cringe,” jockey turned trainer Mark Newnham said.

“Jockeys have always looked up to the best of their time, and my apprentices want to be Joao Moreira or James McDonald.

“They want to ride like them, with much less use of the whip and more finesse.

“It has certainly changed a lot and moved with the times. Everyone accepts the change in rules and where things are going, but jockeys still need it.”

The rules will no doubt become tighter, and the unlimited use of the whip in the final 100m has to be abolished in favour of a flat number of strikes.

There is too much grey area in the rules as they stand and the way they administered. Stewards look at the totality of whip use when assessing penalties. There should just be a limit to make it black and white.

In England, that limit has been set at seven hits, and eight in jumps racing, with only five strikes to be used in the final 200m or after the last fence.

Racing Australia has to take the lead and come up with a number, and the penalties should be uniform across the country.

Stewards say Strawb didn’t hit its head

Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel is happy with the decision to let well-backed favourite Strawb run after rearing in the barriers at Newcastle on Saturday.

Strawb was the best-supported runner at The Hunter meeting but, after rearing in the barrier and being checked by the vet and allowed to run, he was one of the first beaten in the straight.

There were claims Strawb struck her head on the uprights of the barrier when she reared, but Van Gestel said that was not the case.

“The steward in the bunker checked when it was getting examined by the vet,” Van Gestel said. “It didn’t [hit its head] and I have looked at the video as well and I’m happy with that decision.

“It was very disappointing and has barrier trial before starting in a race again.”

The Hunter meeting matches Sydney turnover

Tommy Berry takes the Spring Stakes on The Elanora during a successful day of Saturday racing at Newcastle.

Tommy Berry takes the Spring Stakes on The Elanora during a successful day of Saturday racing at Newcastle. Credit:Getty

The wagering figures for The Hunter card were strong enough to suggest punters would be happy to have more opportunities to bet on the Newcastle track as the main Saturday meeting.

The meeting, in concert with a feature meeting from Sandown, held similar numbers to a normal Saturday in Sydney and will continue to grow in coming years.

There have been calls for Newcastle to be used for another Saturday meeting in the winter and that should be considered, given the nature of the track to provide a perfect racing surface.

If it was to happen, it would need to have a feature event to give the meeting a focus and be run in association with group 1 meeting from Brisbane.

Gelded Purple Sector looks for The Gong


John Thompson is enjoying the change in Purple Sector after the five-year-old was gelded and hopes he can deliver another $1 million prize in The Gong at Kembla Grange on Saturday.

Purple Sector has two wins and a second this preparation after being cut and is finally delivering on the promise shown in winning the Rough Habit Plate as a three-year-old.

He never won out of turn but this campaign he is more focused and won on Everest day and Melbourne Cup day.

“We knew he was holding back a bit, now we are finding out how much,” Thompson said. “He was always a really good horse at home and he is finally showing that on the track.

“I thought his win at Flemington showed what a different horse he is this prep. He never travelled but found a way to win.

“He had 10 days in the paddock to freshen up on his way back from Melbourne, and he is ready to run really well at the mile.

“It is a good test for him and where he might be going.”

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