Mention of gambling in Ireland, particularly sports gambling nearly always refers to gambling on horseracing, perceived by many as an Irish national pastime. Certainly, if you are fortunate enough to attend Cheltenham in Gold Cup week you could easily imagine that Ireland was empty. Horseracing has provided gambling opportunities almost every day for many years with very little controversy, but suddenly the sport has run into problems and there is even talk of a jockey’s strike. The new rules on the use of the whip introduced by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) are in danger of causing the biggest upset in the sport of horseracing we have ever seen, and of course will inevitably effect the horseracing gambling industry if the problems are not resolved. The latest flashpoint was on Thursday, when Ruby Walsh lost his appeal against excessive use of the whip at a jumps race at Aintree, for which he was given a five day ban. Ruby Walsh is of course one of the most respected riders in the sport, and when a rider of his standing insists that the extra stroke of the whip was necessary for safety reasons, most of his fellow riders would accept that explanation, but not the BHA apparently. This ban is just the latest in a series of high profile bans issued since the new rules were implemented, and the loss of big name riders at race meetings is also in danger of interfering in the horseracing gambling business. Many people gambling on horseracing follow their particular favourite rider, and lengthy bans could obviously reduce their interest significantly. Even those horserace gamblers who primarily concentrate on the horse when making their selections, may well think twice if the usual rider is not on board. For the benefit of everyone associated with horseracing, including owners, trainers, riders and the fans gambling on the races, we can only hope that common sense will prevail as quickly as possible before the sport suffers irreparable damage.