As Britain’s leading horseracing magazine, we have a duty to cover the big issues and in recent months none has been bigger, or indeed more controversial, than the whip and its use in our sport.

Yet being a monthly title, it has been difficult to include much on this subject, due to the number of reviews and revisions that have taken place following an outpouring of hostility to the initial rule changes that were revealed in September.

The period between going to press and actual publication can only be a few days but such has been the whip debate’s moveable nature, anything we could have produced on this topic in the last two issues would have looked out of date by the time it was with our readers.

Thankfully, the matter seems to have calmed down and while the latest amendments have still not pleased everyone, it appears as good a time as any to reflect on events.

Cast as the villain in the whip saga – by the majority in the racing media, at any rate – the British Horseracing Authority has endured a tough year, following previous disappointments over the Tote sale and the levy settlement.

The BHA will have a new Chief Executive in January, with Australian Paul Bittar taking over the role from Nic Coward, who departed in the spring. Having worked for the organisation’s predecessor, the British Horseracing Board, Bittar has a crucial advantage in his knowledge and understanding of UK racing.

Industry figures who met Bittar on a recent meet-and-greet visit were full of praise and positive about his appointment. Willingness to engage with the wider racing community will be crucial and his arrival can help give the organisation back its authority which has been so undermined by recent criticism.

Jockey Mike Smith is no stranger to criticism, either – his ride on Zenyatta at last year’s Breeders’ Cup saw him denounced as American racing’s public enemy number one, as he guided the brilliant mare to her first and only defeat in the Classic.

At the subsequent post-race press conference, the jockey was reduced to tears as he tried to come to terms with exactly what a nose defeat meant, not just to him and his mount, but to the sport and Zenyatta’s army of fans around the world.

Twelve months later, Smith’s fortunes turned full circle as he produced a masterful effort aboard Drosselmeyer to land the $5 million contest, beating into second place Game On Dude, ridden by his former girlfriend, Chantal Sutherland.

With the Breeders’ Cup behind us, attention is now firmly fixed on the jumps season and both Rebecca Curtis and David Fox have plenty to get excited about for the season ahead.
Curtis, 31, is making a name for herself from her base on the Pembrokeshire coast, having sent out more winners every season since taking out a licence three years ago.

In this month’s Talking To, Curtis, who is part of a vibrant training scene in Wales, explains how she managed to attract JP McManus to her stable and why she could be harbouring a potential Grand National candidate.

David Fox, whose high-class chaser Tartak is pictured on this month’s cover, enjoyed Grade 1 success with Saint Are at Aintree in April. His focus is on quality, not quantity, and as Alan Lee finds out, he and partner Lystra Adams have fallen in love with the winter game.

“We used to go away at Christmas but we couldn’t miss Kempton now,” he says. “Our lives are dictated by this sport now and we’ve been completely draw into the jump racing atmosphere.

“I get little or no pleasure from the Flat. There’s so much more thrill in jump racing and, to me, a very much better social experience.”