BHA Make U-Turn On "Free Will" Statement

BHA Make U-Turn On "Free Will" Statement

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) have made a shocking yet dramatic turn in their beliefs, after confessing they made a 'genuine mistake' when suggesting horses should race out of their own free will.

After a shower of hefty criticism from the racing world - in particular from leading trainers and jockeys, the sport's governing body yielded its' stance on the matter, implying it had missed key aspects involved in the explanation behind the decision to fine trainer Henry Oliver.

Oliver - who was in the spotlight for brighter reasons yesterday after bagging the Newcastle opener yesterday with Another Theatre, was penalised £140 on Saturday for waving his arms at Burrenbridge Hotel before a race to encourage his horse to start.

The BHA has advised that it had not become accustom to a new 'philosophical stance' to the sport and had unduly inflated the link between the need to manage welfare, and the incident that occured at Uttoxeter on Saturday.

(Credit: Racing Post) A statement from the BHA read: "In the heat of the social media storm, we put too much emphasis on linking the incident to the need to manage welfare, given the current context.

"The term 'free will', with hindsight, wasn't the right way to put this message across and should not be taken as evidence of a new 'philosophical stance' towards horses.

"We're happy to make that clear and accept the criticism that we shouldn't have used this phrase."

"This rule is in place to ensure there are no inappropriate actions taken by trainers or their representatives which would either give an advantage to a runner or disadvantage other runners.

"Fundamentally, the rule is intended to ensure a fair start," it finished.

Twenty time Champion Jockey Sir AP McCoy led the protests, tweeting his disgust over the decision: "And for such stupidity I’m going to block @BHAStewards incase I end up reading again such embarrassing can our sport have such appalling decision makers in charge."

McCoy's views were mirrored by the Champion Trainer Nicky Henderson, who drew up a fair comparison to the starts in flat racing.

(Credit: Racing Post) He said: "If they are talking about giving horses free will about starting then what about at the stalls on the Flat, when ten burly and brilliant men shove, heave and lift horses into the stalls when the horse says no?

"The BHA is baffling at the moment, coming out with more and more bizarre instructions. I despair. How are punters going to feel about horses being allowed to decide whether to start or not, he finished."