Disciplinary Panel result regarding Steven Gagan, Elliott Cooper, Stuart Trevaskis / 21 Aug 14

Disciplinary

  • Former licensed jockey Steven Gagan disqualified for 14 years for breaches of the Rules relating to the conspiracy to commit a corrupt practice, stopping horses, passing inside information, and failing to supply phone records for an unregistered phone.
  • Former licensed trainer Elliott Cooper disqualified for 14 years for breaches of the Rules relating to the conspiracy to commit a corrupt practice, passing inside information, laying his own horse, and causing and encouraging Gagan to commit breaches of the Rules.
  • Unlicensed person Stuart Trevaskis excluded for 11 and a half years for breaches of the Rules relating to the conspiracy to commit a corrupt practice.

 

On 21 and 22 July 2014 the Disciplinary Panel (“the Panel”) of the British Horseracing Authority (“BHA”) met to consider a number of allegations made by the BHA against Steven Gagan, Elliott Cooper and Stuart Trevaskis.

The matters alleged against the individuals were as follows:

Steven Gagan

1. Did STEVEN GAGAN in the period between about 1 August 2011 and 13 January 2012 act in breach of Rule (A) 41.2by conspiring with one or more others including ELLIOTT COOPER for the commission of a corrupt or fraudulent practice namely the use for lay betting with a Betting Organisation of information about the likely performance of horses in races when, as GAGAN knew:

(a) the information was (i) known by a Rider, GAGAN, as a result of acting as a Rider and (ii) not information in the public domain or regarded as such under the Rules of Racing (and hence ‘Inside Information’ within the Rules) and would provide a bettor with an unfair advantage in the betting market

(b) the information was or included the fact that GAGAN was prepared and intended if necessary to take steps or to omit to ride the horse so as to prevent it from winning or being placed in the race

(c) the conspirators contemplated that the net proceeds of the lay betting would be shared between them

(d) the information related to a horse of which at least one of the conspirators was an owner and as such prohibited by the Rules of Racing ((E)92.2) from laying or instructing another to lay it with a Betting Organisation and

(e) the true ownership of the horse was fraudulently concealed and/or

2. In relation to each of Races 1, 2 and 3, did STEVEN GAGAN on and/or before the date of that Race act in breach of Rule (A) 36.2 by communicating directly or indirectly to ELLIOTT COOPER and/or STUART TREVASKIS for material reward, gift, favour or benefit in kind Inside Information about the Horse due to run in that Race?

3. In relation to each of Races 1 and 3, did STEVEN GAGAN act in breach of Rule (B) 59.2 by intentionally failing to ensure that the Horse was run on its merits in the Race?

4. In relation to each of Races 1and 3, did STEVEN GAGAN act in breach of Rule (D)53.2.3 by receiving part of the proceeds of laying a horse to lose with a Betting Organisation?

Did STEVEN GAGAN act in breach of Rule (A) 50.2 by failing to supply billing accounts in respect of a mobile telephone with the number 07428 603257 which he had used in the period 1 August 2011 to 23 February 2012 and which were relevant to an investigation conducted under Part A(5) of the Rules of Racing and fell within the scope of a request made of GAGAN on 23 February 2012 by an Approved Person with prior specific authorisation from the Authority who reasonably believed such records to be so relevant.

 

Elliott Cooper

1. Did ELLIOTT COOPER in the period between about 1 August 2011 and 13 January 2012 act in breach of Rule (A)41.2 by conspiring with one or more others including STEVEN GAGAN and/or STUART TREVASKIS for the commission of a corrupt or fraudulent practice namely the use for lay betting with a Betting Organisation of information about the likely performance of horses in races when, as COOPER knew:

(a) the information was (i) known by a Rider, GAGAN, as a result of acting as a Rider and (ii) not information in thepublic domain or regarded as such under the Rules of Racing (and hence ‘Inside Information’ within the Rules) and would provide a bettor with an unfair advantage in the betting market

(b) the information was or included the fact that GAGAN was prepared and intended if necessary to take steps or to omit to ride the horse so as to prevent it from winning or being placed in the race

(c) the conspirators contemplated that the net proceeds of the lay betting would be shared between them

(d) the information related to a horse of which at least one of the conspirators was an owner and as such prohibited by the Rules of Racing ((E)92.2) from laying or instructing another to lay it with a Betting Organisation and

(e) the true ownership of the horse was fraudulently concealed and/or

2. In relation to each of Races 1, 2 and 3 did ELLIOTT COOPER act

(a) in breach of Rule (A)37 by causing or encouraging STEVEN GAGAN to act

(i) in contravention of Rule (B) 59.2 by intentionally failing to ensure that the Horse was run on its merits in the Race and/or

(ii) in contravention of Rule (A) 36.2 by communicating directly or indirectly to COOPER for material reward, gift, favour or benefit in kind Inside Information about the Horse due to run in that race and/or

(b) in breach of Rule (A) 36.2 by communicating directly or indirectly to STUART TREVASKIS for material reward, gift, favour or benefit in kind Inside Information about the Horse due to run in that Race and/or

(c) in breach of Rule (E) 92.2.2 by instructing TREVASKIS to lay a horse to lose a race with a Betting Organisation on COOPER’s behalf when it was a horse of which COOPER was an owner and/or

3. In relation to each of Races 1 and 3 did ELLIOTT COOPER act

(a) in breach of Rule (A) 42 by having dealings with a Professional Rider, Steven GAGAN, which caused GAGAN to contravene Rule (D) 53.2.3 by receiving any part of the proceeds of the laying of a horse with a Betting Organisation and/or

(b) in breach of Rule (E) 92.2.3by receiving any part of the proceeds of a lay bet placed with a Betting Organisation by TREVASKIS on COOPER’s instructions and on his behalf on a horse of which COOPER was an owner?

 

Stuart Trevaskis

1. Did STUART TREVASKIS in the period between about 1 August 2011 and 13 January 2012 act in breach of Rule (A) 41.2 by conspiring with one or more others including STEVEN GAGAN and/or ELLIOTT COOPER for the commission of a corrupt or fraudulent practice namely the use for lay betting with a Betting Organisation of information about the likely performance of horses in races when, as TREVASKIS knew:

(a) the information was (i) known by a Rider, GAGAN, as a result of acting as a Rider and (ii) not information in the public domain or regarded as such under the Rules of Racing (and hence ‘Inside Information’ within the Rules) and would provide a bettor with an unfair advantage in the betting market

(b) the information was or included the fact that GAGAN was prepared and intended if necessary to take steps or to omit to ride the horse so as to prevent it from winning or, being placed in the race

(c) the conspirators contemplated that the net proceeds of the lay betting would be shared between them

(d) the information related to a horse of which at least one of the conspirators was an owner and as such prohibited by the Rules of Racing ((E)92.2) from laying or instructing another to lay it with a Betting Organisation and

(e) the true ownership of the horse was fraudulently concealed and/or

2. Did STUART TREVASKIS on and/or before the date of each of Races 1, 2 and 3 act in breach of Rule (A) 37by

(a) assisting, causing or encouraging STEVEN GAGAN to act

(i) in contravention of Rule (A) 36.2 by communicating directly or indirectly to COOPER and/or TREVASKIS for material reward, gift, favour or benefit in kind Inside Information about the Horse due to run in that Race and/or

(ii) in contravention of Rule (B) 59.2 by intentionally failing to ensure that the Horse was run on its merits in the Race and/or

(iii) in contravention of Rule (D) 53.2.3 by receiving part of the proceeds of laying a horse to lose with a Betting Organisation?

(b) assisting, causing or encouraging ELLIOTT COOPER to act

(i) in contravention of Rule (A) 36.2 by communicating directly or indirectly t TREVASKIS for material reward, gift, favour or benefit in kind inside Information about the Horse due to run in that Race and/or

(ii) in breach of Rule (A) 42 by having dealings with a Professional Rider, Steven GAGAN, which caused GAGAN to contravene Rule (D) 53.2.3 by receiving any part of the proceeds of the laying of a horse with a Betting Organisation and/or

(iii) in contravention of Rule (E) 92.2.3 by receiving any part of the proceeds of a lay bet on a horse of which COOPER was an owner?

 

2.  Background

2.1 The event which led to the uncovering of these issues was the unseating of a rider, Steven Gagan, from a gelding called KICKAHEAD (USA) in the 1.40pm County Refreshments Selling Hurdle at Musselburgh on 13 January 2012. KICKAHEAD had been sent off 9-2 joint second favourite. It was Gagan’s first ride for trainer Ian Williams and moreover the first time Gagan had ridden gelding.

2.2 Williams was already uneasy prior to the race; he had never met KICKAHEAD’s new owners and knew very little about them or the jockey, Gagan, that they had requested for the ride. Williams watched the race and was very concerned by the manner of Gagan’s unseating – this was compounded by the fact that the odds had drifted before the race. As a result he contacted the BHA’s Integrity Department to raise his concerns that Gagan had fallen deliberately off the gelding.

2.3 Alongside William’s scrutiny of events, concerns about the betting patterns on KICKAHEAD had already been noted by betting analysts at the BHA. On the morning of the race, KICKAHEAD was priced up as the favourite by the bookmakers at 2-1; it had won its previous race. Prior to the start the price drifted to 9-2 reflecting a significant market negative sentiment and an indicator of the horse’s perceived likely performance.

2.4 This information combined with the views of the BHA race reader led the BHA to contact Betdaq to review the betting on KICKAHEAD. (Betfair’s website was down at the time of the race which meant lower volumes of money were traded on it.) Betdaq confirmed that its review of the betting identified a pattern of bets on an account it regarded as suspicious. In consequence the BHA sought disclosure from Betdaq of information regarding the race.

2.5 Examination of the suspicious account showed it was owned by Stuart Trevaskis. £18,000 had been placed into the account 18 hours before the race in two tranches of £10,000 and £8,000. The account layed the horse heavily and since KICKAHEAD did not finish following Gagan’s unseating it won £6,789.78. The account risked £25,916.84, most of it but not all of it in the win market. This was an exceptional bet for the account, second only in scale to a liability assumed when laying a horse in August 2011. It was more than double the third largest lay liability and way above the account average lay liability of £549.

2.6 The BHA commenced an investigation into the KICKAHEAD race and during the course of its inquiry the scope was widened to include two more races. In addition to Gagan’s ride on KICKAHEAD (Race 3), his ride on QUELL THE STORM (Race 1) at Cartmel on 25 August 2011 was reviewed as well as events leading to his intended ride on PLATINUM (Race 2) at Fakenham on New Year’s Day 2012. In the event PLATINUM did not race since the gelding was ruled to be unfit following an examination by the BHA Veterinary Officer at the racecourse.

2.7 Following its inquiry (which included a referral of the issues to the Cumbria Police Force to allow them the opportunity to consider whether they wish to pursue a criminal investigation) the BHA charged the Gagan, Cooper and Trevaskis with a number of breaches of the Rules of Racing as set out above.

2.8 Each of the individuals was interviewed as part of the investigation but by the time of the Panel hearing, levels of cooperation with the BHA had altered considerably. By then Gagan had ceased to have any contact with the BHA, was not represented and made no submissions at the hearing. Cooper submitted a response to the allegations and on the second day of the inquiry, after some deliberation, made himself available by telephone to answer questions from the BHA and the Panel.

2.9 On the morning of the inquiry, Trevaskis offered a plea which was accepted by the BHA. The basis for his plea was that he would admit Charge 1 (a) to (e) on a certain factual basis on the understanding that the BHA would not to pursue Charge 2.

Trevaskis’s factual admissions underpinning Charge 1 (a) to (e) were as follows:

(i) Trevaskis accepted that he was in breach of Rule A 41.2 by conspiring to commit a corrupt and fraudulent practice in that he received information from Cooper concerning the rides that would be given to the horses in the races in question by Gagan and in particular the fact that Gagan was prepared and intended to, if necessary, to take steps to prevent the horses from winning. Mr Trevaskis stated he had no direct contact with Gagan.

(ii) Travaskis accepted that the net proceeds of the individual lay bets would be shared by others but not by him. In making such acknowledgement Trevaskis accepted that he as a registered bookmaker would have benefitted from knowledge of this inside information in that this would have enabled him to offer different odds to those placing bets at the racecourse.

(iii) Travaskis asserted that he did not own any of the horses.

(iv) Travaskis maintained that throughout this period he was acting at the direction and instigation of Cooper and that it was Cooper who had a relationship with Gagan and it was Cooper who was “pulling the strings” in the enterprise.

(v) Trevaskis accepted that covert telephone numbers were used by him to call the trainers Wilson and Kirby and to communicate with Cooper in respect of his involvement in the betting on the races which formed the subject of the inquiry.

 

3. Phones & Secret Phones

3.1 In understanding the evidential background to the case, one of the key features which the Panel noted was the number of personal mobile phones which were used by Gagan, Trevaskis and Cooper.

3.2 At the outset of the BHA’s inquiry the individuals had made available to the BHA records from their mobile phones which were registered with the BHA. As the inquiry proceeded, it was apparent that the individuals were using multiple phones which were not registered with the BHA in order to pursue their conspiracy.

3.3 The police, during their involvement with the investigation seized a mobile phone at Gagan’s home which was not registered with the BHA, and it was possible from careful analysis of this mobile phone’s records and the other records requested to identify two further mobile numbers being used by Trevaskis and three further mobile phones being used Elliott Cooper. Seizure of the phone also allowed a number of text messages to be recovered which provided important information in understanding how the conspiracy worked.

3.4 Trevaskis, used one of his additional phones to contact the trainers – assuming fictitious identities when doing so. His other mobile was used for contact with Cooper.

3.5 Cooper’s additional phones were also used to contact trainers; like Trevaskis, he also assumed a fictitious identity of an owner. He also used the phones to contact Gagan.

 

4. Previous Disciplinary History

4.1 At the outset of the inquiry the BHA brought the Panel’s attention to a previous disciplinary case involving Cooper. That hearing took place in December 2011 which coincided with the timing of the events which formed the subject matter of the current inquiry. On that occasion Cooper was found guilty of passing inside information to another and aiding and abetting the commission of a corrupt and fraudulent practice. Cooper was disqualified for 12 months from 20 December 2011.

 

5. The Races

5.1 The Panel reviewed recordings of the races at Cartmel and Musselburgh. In both races it was clear from the film evidence that Gagan was determined that neither gelding would finish the race. At Cartmel Gagan rode QUELL THE STORM in a four horse race. The gelding had a good start and after the fourth flight of hurdles it had taken a lead of about six lengths. As it approached the fifth, the gelding showed no sign of difficulty but on landing Gagan lurched forward in the saddle and then pulled the gelding up.

5.2 The gelding was assessed after the race and no abnormality was detected which would account for the need to pull it up mid race. The horse was found to be sound when returning home to its trainer.

5.3 Gagan’s accounts of the race was that he felt the gelding to be wrong 3-4 strides before the jump and that it had ‘lost its action’ were simply not borne out by the recording of the race.

5.4 At Musselburgh Gagan rode KICKAHEAD. On this occasion, the ending of the gelding’s chances in the race were more dramatic. It was a six horse race and the gelding was settled last in the field. It was kept at the rear but in contact with the second group. At the fourth flight of hurdles the film shows Gagan leaning his weight over to the right as he clears the hurdle and then he proceeds to slide off the right side of the gelding removing his left foot cleanly from the stirrup. He simply made no effort to stay in the saddle and tamely fell off the gelding as it galloped away from the hurdle. The Panel concluded he purposefully fell off the gelding. There was no other credible explanation for his unseating.

 

6. Evidence

6.1 In the light of the plea from Trevaskis and in the absence of any admission from Gagan and moreover any meaningful admission from Cooper in his formal response to the Charges, the BHA presented its case to the Panel.

6.2 The BHA relied upon the documents it had collated during its inquiry. Although no witnesses were called, their written evidence was relied upon together with the documents they exhibited. This included analysis of the betting information from the Trevaskis’s Betdaq account, the phone calls and text messages which passed between Gagan, Cooper and Trevaskis and the phone and text contact with the respective trainers of the horses.

6.3 On the morning of the second day of the hearing Cooper made himself available on his mobile phone to answer questions from the BHA. By then he had seen the plea put forward by Trevaskis. Cooper admitted that he bought QUELL THE STORM. He said he had expected it to finish at the back and did not know of Gagan’s intention to pull it up. Cooper acknowledged that the proceeds of the lay betting were divided between him and Gagan.  He put a lay bet on the gelding through Trevaskis.

6.4 He accepted he had pretended to be an owner when speaking with Trainers and used a phone not known to the BHA. He said the enterprise had been ‘like a game to start with, a bit of fun, but it got out of control’. He said that he was encouraged by Gagan and Trevaskis and passed information between them.

6.5 Cooper accepted that he knew that KICKAHEAD would not be run on its merits but denied knowing that Gagan would jump off the gelding. He said that he wished he could turn back time. He expressed regret about the events that had taken place.

 

7. Panel Findings

7.1 Having carefully reviewed the evidence the Panel made the following findings:

 

8. Steven Gagan

8.1 STEVEN GAGAN in the period between about 1 August 2011 and 13 January 2012 acted in breach of Rule (A) 41.2by conspiring with ELLIOTT COOPER to commission a corrupt practice namely the use for lay betting with a Betting Organisation of information about the likely performance of horses in races when, as GAGAN knew:

(a) the information was (i) known by a Rider, GAGAN, as a result of acting as a Rider and (ii) not information in the public domain or regarded as such under the Rules of Racing (and hence ‘Inside Information’ within the Rules) and would provide a bettor with an unfair advantage in the betting market,

(b) the information included the fact that GAGAN was prepared and intended if necessary to take steps or to omit to ride the horse so as to prevent it from winning or being placed in the race,

(c) the conspirators contemplated that the net proceeds of the lay betting would be shared between them,

(d) the information in respect of  QUELL THE STORM related to a horse of which at least one of the conspirators was an owner and as such prohibited by the Rules of Racing ((E)92.2) from laying or instructing another to lay it with a Betting Organisation, and

(e) the true ownership of the horses was fraudulently concealed; and,

8.2 In relation to each of Races 1, 2 and 3, STEVEN GAGAN on and before the date of that Race acted in breach of Rule (A) 36.2 by communicating directly to ELLIOTT COOPER and indirectly to STUART TREVASKIS for material reward, gift, favour or benefit in kind Inside Information about the Horse due to run in that Race.

8.3 In relation to each of Races 1 and 3, STEVEN GAGAN acted in breach of Rule (B) 59.2 by intentionally failing to ensure that the Horse was run on its merits in the Race.

8.4 In relation to Race 1STEVEN GAGAN acted in breach of Rule (D)53.2.3 by receiving part of the proceeds of laying a horse to lose with a Betting Organisation.

8.5 STEVEN GAGAN acted in breach of Rule (A) 50.2 by failing to supply billing accounts in respect of a mobile telephone with the number 07428 603257 which he had used in the period 1 August 2011 to 23 February 2012 and which were relevant to an investigation conducted under Part A(5) of the Rules of Racing and fell within the scope of a request made of GAGAN on 23 February 2012 by an Approved Person with prior specific authorisation from the Authority who reasonably believed such records to be so relevant.

 

9. Elliott Cooper

9.1 ELLIOTT COOPER in the period between about 1 August 2011 and 13 January 2012 acted in breach of Rule (A)41.2 by conspiring with STEVEN GAGAN and STUART TREVASKIS for the commission of a corrupt or fraudulent practice namely the use for lay betting with a Betting Organisation of information about the likely performance of horses in races when, as COOPER knew:

(a) the information was (i) known by a Rider, GAGAN, as a result of acting as a Rider and (ii) not information in thepublic domain or regarded as such under the Rules of Racing (and hence ‘Inside Information’ within the Rules) and would provide a bettor with an unfair advantage in the betting market,

(b) the information included the fact that GAGAN was prepared and intended if necessary to take steps or to omit to ride the horse so as to prevent it from winning or being placed in the race,

(c) the conspirators contemplated that the net proceeds of the lay betting would be shared between them,

(d) the information in respect of QUELL THE STORM related to a horse of which at least one of the conspirators was an owner and as such prohibited by the Rules of Racing ((E)92.2) from laying or instructing another to lay it with a Betting Organisation, and

(e) the true ownership of the horses was fraudulently concealed; and,

9.2 In relation to each of Races 1, 2 and 3 ELLIOTT COOPER acted

(f) in breach of Rule (A)37 by causing in relation to Race 1 and 3 and encouraging in relation to Race 2 STEVEN GAGAN to act:

(i) in contravention of Rule (B) 59.2 by intentionally failing to ensure that the Horse was run on its merits in the Race and,

(ii) in contravention of Rule (A) 36.2 by communicating directly to COOPER for material reward, gift, favour or benefit in kind Inside Information about the Horse due to run in that race and,

(b) in breach of Rule (A) 36.2 by communicating indirectly with STUART TREVASKIS for material reward, gift, favour or benefit in kind Inside Information about the horse due to run in that Race and,

(c) in breach of Rule (E) 92.2.2 by instructing TREVASKIS to lay QUELL THE STORM to lose a race with a Betting Organisation on COOPER’s behalf when QUELL THE STORM was a horse of which COOPER was an owner and,

9.3 In relation to Race 1 ELLIOTT COOPER acted:

(a) in breach of Rule (A) 42 by having dealings with a Professional Rider, Steven GAGAN, which caused GAGAN to contravene Rule (D) 53.2.3 by receiving any part of the proceeds of the laying of a horse with a Betting Organisation and,

(b) in breach of Rule (E) 92.2.3by receiving any part of the proceeds of a lay bet placed with a Betting Organisation by TREVASKIS on COOPER’s instructions and on his behalf on a horse of which COOPER was an owner.

 

10. Stuart Trevaskis

10.1 STUART TREVASKIS in the period between about 1 August 2011 and 13 January 2012 acted in breach of Rule (A) 41.2 by conspiring with STEVEN GAGAN and ELLIOTT COOPER for the commission of a corrupt or fraudulent practice namely the use for lay betting with a Betting Organisation of information about the likely performance of horses in races when, as TREVASKIS knew:

(a) the information was (i) known by a Rider, GAGAN, as a result of acting as a Rider and (ii) not information in the public domain or regarded as such under the Rules of Racing (and hence ‘Inside Information’ within the Rules) and would provide a bettor with an unfair advantage in the betting market,

(b) the information was or included the fact that GAGAN was prepared and intended if necessary to take steps or to omit to ride the horse so as to prevent it from winning or, being placed in the race,

(c) the conspirators contemplated that the net proceeds of the lay betting would be shared between them,

(d) the information in respect of QUELL THE STORM related to a horse of which at least one of the conspirators was an owner and as such prohibited by the Rules of Racing ((E)92.2) from laying or instructing another to lay it with a Betting Organisation and

(e) the true ownership of the horses was fraudulently concealed.

10.2 In the light of the basis of the agreed plea, the Panel considered it unnecessary to review the second allegation against Trevaskis. The Panel accepted the basis of plea put forward by the BHA and Trevaskis in respect of the first allegation save that it restricted its finding in respect of sub allegation (d) to the ownership of QUELL THE STORM.

 

11. Reasons

11.1 The Panel carefully considered the evidence before them mindful of the plea from Trevaskis and the partial admissions made by Cooper during his telephone call to the hearing.

11.2 The Panel found the conspiracy proved on the basis of the evidence adduced by the BHA. From analysis of the witness evidence and betting and phone records, the Panel concluded that Trevaskis, Cooper and Gagan had worked in concert to purchase horses and run them in races where Gagan would be the jockey. Trevaskis would place lay bets in respect of the races which would be successful since Gagan was prepared to stop the horses or otherwise ensure they would not win or be placed. Although Gagan and Trevaskis were not in contact with one another the Panel found that Cooper provided a conduit to ensure that all three conspirators knew exactly what was being planned. The Panel’s finding are underpinned by its determination that the following sequence of events occurred:

11.3 With respect to the race at Cartmel on 25 August 2011, a gelding, QUELL THE STORM was purchased by Elliott Cooper and sent to a permit holder called Andrew Wilson to be trained. Wilson was known to Gagan. Trevaskis assumed the identity of the owner under the fictitious name Nixon and instructed the trainer that Gagan was to ride the horse. Gagan was aware that the horse had fitness issues and was confident that it would not win or be placed. Wilson entered the horse in the race at Cartmel in his own name and Trevaskis, layed the horse to a liability to £51,786.55. His bets were successful since Gagan deliberately pulled the gelding up. Trevaskis won £7,204.88.

11.4 Following the race, text messages passed between Gagan and Cooper. They discussed how the winnings were to be distributed. Cooper said he would be deducting £5,000 from the winnings to reflect the expenses he had incurred buying the horse and keeping it with Wilson. Of the remaining £2,000 he agreed to give Gagan £1,000. He kept £800 himself and gave his father £200 for using his time and money.

11.5 In the days leading up to the race, on the day of the race and shortly thereafter, numerous phone calls and text messages passed between Cooper and Gagan and also Cooper and Trevaskis. Gagan and Trevaskis had no direct contact and it was clear that Cooper was the middle man liaising with the jockey and the bookmaker in order to ensure the smooth running of the corrupt conspiracy.

11.6 The second attempt in the conspiracy concerned a gelding called PLATINUM. It was entered to run at Fakenham on New Year’s Day 2012. Trevaskis, still posing as an owner called Nixon had asked Wilson to buy a gelding called PLATINUM from a claiming hurdle at Ludlow in November 2011. There were difficulties with the horse after purchase; first in relation to its out of date flu jabs and secondly regarding a tendon problem. Trevaskis (posing as Nixon) tried to insist that Wilson run the gelding. Wilson refused being concerned as to the gelding’s fitness and told “Nixon” he was free to move the gelding to another trainer.

11.7 On the 23 December a licensed trainer, Phillip Kirby, was persuaded to take PLATINUM. He assessed the gelding as being sound and on the instructions of “Nixon” entered PLATINUM to run on New Year’s Day. “Nixon” again asked Gagan to be booked to ride the horse. Deposits of £28,000 were made into Trevaskis’s Betdaq account shortly before PLATINUM was due to run at Fakenham. On this occasion the conspiracy was thwarted. Less than 90 minutes before the start of the race Platinum was declared unfit to run by a BHA Veterinary Officer at the course. Examination showed the gelding had an inflamed tendon and it was declared a non-runner.

11.8 The Panel concluded that preparations for the conspiracy had been put in place for the PLATINUM race. The deposit monies were intended to fund substantial lay betting on PLATINUM. Trevaskis would have been confident that the horse would not have been won or placed because Gagan was the jockey and he would have taken the necessary steps during the race to ensure this occurred. Again, numerous phone calls and text messages were exchanged between the parties prior to the race. The Panel concluded that this reflected the preparation by the conspirators to execute their corrupt plan.

11.9 The final race which formed the subject matter of this inquiry occurred on 13 January 2012. On this occasion Cooper posed as an owner called Mark Griffiths and persuaded a trainer Ian Williams that he wished to buy a horse. Cooper (posing as Griffiths) agreed to buy KICKAHEAD. Williams was also contacted by an individual called Nicholson who indicated he was a colleague of Griffiths. This was in fact Trevaskis posing as another fictitious owner. Williams was instructed to book Gagan to ride the horse and did so. At this point he had neither met “Griffiths” or “Nicholson”. His only contact with them had been via text or phone.

11.10 As set out above, extensive lay betting again occurred in this race. Trevaskis won £6,789.78 having risked a liability of £25,916.84. As with the other races the phone records again reflect a suspicious and confirmatory pattern of phone and text exchanges in relation to the three individuals.

 

12. Penalty

12.1 The Panel has reviewed the penalty ranges for the breaches found against Gagan, Cooper and Trevaskis.

12.2 In respect of the first allegation found proved against all three respondents, they fall to be censured in respect of a breach of Rule (A) 41.2. Of the other breaches in the remaining allegations found proved against Gagan and Cooper, the breach of Rule (B) 59.2 is the most serious. Gagan also falls to be considered in respect of the separate breach of Rule (A) 50.2 relating to the non-disclosure of phone records.

12.3 Gagan was prepared to, in the case of PLATINUM, and in fact did, in the races involving QUELL THE STORM and KICKAHEAD prevent the geldings from winning or being placed in the races. His actions in being prepared to, and deliberately not, riding the geldings to obtain the best possible placing for personal reward and knowing that they had been layed are repeated breaches of Rule (B) 59.2. In the case of QUELL THE STORM the evidence was clear that Gagan received a share of the lay betting winnings. In the other races – he benefitted from the rides which he would not have otherwise been given but for the corrupt conspiracy. In all three races he knew the geldings had been layed. Cooper and Trevaskis conspired with Gagan to occasion the repeated breaches.

12.4 The recommended penalty range for a breach of Rule (B) 59.2 is 5 – 25 years with an entry point of 8 years. The other offences carry recommended penalty ranges of up to 10 years with entry points varying between 18 months and 3 years. Since the offences all arose from the same set of facts the Panel directed itself that penalties relating to the three races would run concurrently and the correct approach when dealing with Gagan and Cooper was to consider the quantum of penalty for the most serious issue; that relating to the breaches of Rule(B) 59.2. For Trevaskis, the Panel considered the matter under the admitted breach of (A) 41.2.

12.5 For Gagan and Cooper, the Panel started by considering an entry point of disqualification or exclusion for a period of 8 years in respect of the breach of Rule (B) 59.2. In respect of Trevaskis, the Panel also determined that an entry point of 8 years was appropriate for the breach of Rule (A) 41.2. The Panel is mindful that this is considerably higher than the recommended entry point in the Guide to Procedures and Penalties but considered it simply artificial to approach the issue of penalty on a different basis. Trevaskis’s breach of Rule (A) 41.2 in essence involved him conspiring to commission a breach of Rule (B) 59.2. The language in sub-paragraph 1(b) and 1(c) of the allegation is clear – the consequence of his actions was to effect such mischief. The corruption he conspired to perpetrate undermines the essential trust that race goers and punters should enjoy; namely that bookmakers accept bets having priced the market according to the form of the horses, not through inside information relating to fraudulent activities. Trevaskis falls to be severely penalised for his actions.

12.6 The Panel concluded there was a serious aggravating feature for all three respondents namely that this was not an isolated event concerning one horse and one race. The conspiracy spanned 3 different horses in three separate races, and involved deceiving a number of different trainers over a period of time. This was not a one off event; it was a carefully planned corrupt enterprise that would, in the Panel’s view, have continued but for the BHA investigation into the KICKAHEAD race.

12.7 In view of this aggravating factor the Panel determined that there should be an uplift of 50% on the entry point penalty for each respondent and that the starting point for considering penalty before applying other individual aggravating or mitigating factors for Gagan, Cooper and Trevaskis should be a period of 12 years.  For Trevaskis this penalty is above the recommended penalty range for a breach of Rule (A) 41.2 but for the reasons set out above the Panel considered this the correct approach in this case.

12.8 The Panel considered the facts specific to each individual which led the Panel to conclude the final penalties as follows:

12.9    Gagan

12.9.1 In respect of Gagan, the Panel identified additional aggravating issues which caused them to conclude that the penalty should be increased over and above a 12 year period. The Panel were appalled by the rides given to KICKAHEAD and QUELL THE STORM and in particular the reckless disregard that Gagan had for others in the KICKAHEAD race knowing that he would be deliberately letting KICKAHEAD loose with all the unanticipated consequences that could occur with a riderless horse. Gagan’s behaviour seriously undermines the good standing of jockeys and in particular those who genuinely are unseated in the course of a race.

12.9.2 In addition to these factors the Panel reminded itself that Gagan repeatedly lied during his interview with the BHA, he provided no response to the inquiry and failed to turn up to address the Panel. The Panel concluded that it was appropriate to increase Gagan’s penalty by a further 6 months in respect of these issues.

12.9.3 The Panel further considered the additional breach relating to Gagan’s failure to produce mobile phone records, contrary to the provisions of Rule (a) 50.2. The penalty for this offence has a range of 1 to 3 years and an entry point of 18 months. In respect of this breach, the Panel determined that an 18 month penalty should be imposed consecutively for this offence; it being based on a separate factual basis to the main focus of the breach of (B) 59.2.

12.9.4 The Panel has therefore determined to disqualify Gagan for a period of 14 years.

12.10 Cooper

12.10.1 In respect of Cooper, he falls to be considered both as a licensed and unlicensed individual since these events took place on either side of the disciplinary hearing in December 2012 when Cooper was disqualified. The Panel has approached this issue by reflecting the entirety of the inquiry when considering matters on either side of the disqualification decision; it has taken matters into account after his disqualification in determining the penalty for when he was a licensed individual and conversely has had regard to matters prior to his disqualification when considering the question of penalty relating to Cooper’s unlicensed status.

12.10.2 Again for the reasons set out above the Panel has considered a baseline penalty of 12 years. The Panel noted to Cooper’s credit that he had co-operated to an extent with the BHA inquiry and that he was prepared to give evidence over the phone. That noted, the admissions that he made before the Panel could have been made long before the hearing and at the time of his interview he continually lied about events to the BHA investigators.

12.10.3 Cooper’s involvement was central throughout the conspiracy acting as the link between Gagan and Trevaskis; he was involved with the purchase and placing of the horses and concealment of the conspiracy. He knew about the lay bets and he directly profited from the winnings of the successful lay betting on QUELL THE STORM at Cartmel.

12.10.4 The Panel noted from his correspondence and his submissions before the Panel the very real difficulties which recently have beset Mr Cooper.  The Panel has considered the effects that a lengthy period of disqualification/exclusion may have on Cooper. In noting this issue, the Panel was also mindful that it cannot give him any credit for having a previously clear character. Mr Cooper has been found by a previous BHA disciplinary panel to have acted in a corrupt and fraudulent manner and moreover the events which led to the current charges took place in the very shadow of his previous hearing in December 2012.

12.10.5 The Panel also took a particularly poor view of Cooper, as a former trainer, being prepared to involve and dupe perfectly innocent permit holders and trainers as part of his corrupt enterprise. Any benefit or credit that could be given to Cooper from his limited cooperation is far outweighed by the additional censure which must fall to him for his previous disciplinary history. The Panel has therefore determined that he should be disqualified for a total period of 14 years and concurrently excluded with no right to apply to the BHA to lift this exclusion for a period of 14 years. This reflects Cooper’s licensed and unlicensed status before the Panel.

12.11 Trevaskis

12.11.1 The Panel, having accepted the basis of plea from Trevaskis, reviewed the mitigating and aggravating matters in relation to his case. For the reasons set out above, the Panel determined that the baseline penalty for the breach of (A) 41.2 was 12 years. The level of penalty reflecting the integral part Trevaskis played in conspiring to commission the breach of Rule (B) 59.2.

12.11.2 The Panel acknowledges as set out in Trevaskis’s basis of plea that he did not share any profits from the successful lay-bets. Nevertheless, he was as necessary to the conspiracy as Gagan and Cooper – the conspiracy required the involvement of his Betdaq account and his funding to place the lay-bets.

12.11.3 The Panel noted the mitigation put forward by Mr Trevaskis’s solicitors and the character reference from Dale James Bookmakers. It also reminded itself that although Mr Trevaskis had lied to the BHA’s investigators he had co-operated with the BHA just prior to the commencement of the hearing. That said, by the time of his admission, the BHA had collated a substantial body of probative evidential material against Trevaskis.

12.11.4 In view of the admissions put forward as part of the plea, albeit that they were made very late, the Panel felt it was fair to make a reduction in the penalty but such reduction would be necessarily small and in the Panel’s view the correct reduction was one of 6 months. The Panel therefore determined that Mr Trevaskias, as an unlicensed individual should be excluded and that no application to lift his exclusion should be considered for 11 and a half years.

 

Notes to editors:

1. The Panel for the hearing was: Matthew Lohn (Chair), Lucinda Cavendish and Philip Curl.

2. BHA’s investigation into this case began in January 2012, however, as of July 2012 the matter was referred to Cumbria police. An investigation was then conducted by Cumbria police from the period of July 2012 to July 2013, however no charges in relation to racing were brought and the matter was referred back to BHA at this time.

3. The table of races is as follows:

Race Horse Date Race time Course
1 Quell the Storm 25 August 2011 17.30 Cartmel
2 Platinum 1 January 2012 12.25 Fakenham
3 Kickahead 13 January 2012 13.40 Musselburgh