“There has been a considerable amount of comment following the penalty imposed by the Authority’s Disciplinary Panel relating to charges admitted by Mr Harry Findlay. We would not ordinarily comment on cases, and certainly not while there remains the potential for Mr Findlay to appeal the penalty. However a great deal of misinformed comment has been made and, having discussed this with my Chief Executive and Board, I intend to clarify the facts of the case in the wider interests of British Horseracing.
“The case relates to the rule on owners laying, which is quite clear. It states that an owner must not:
· lay any horse he owns with a betting organisation to lose a race;
· instruct another Person to do so on his behalf; or
· receive the whole or any part of any proceeds of such a lay.
‘Any reference to laying a horse to lose includes any single instance of doing so, whether or not the single instance was, or was intended to be, one of a series of betting arrangements.’
“This rule is in place for good reason. It prevents the owner of a horse profiting from negative information relating to the horse’s prospects in a race which would be known to them by virtue of their ownership. This must include a net back position otherwise it would open the rules to manipulation. This view is the outcome of extensive analysis and consultation over a considerable period of time. We have no intention of amending the rule.
“The Guide to Procedures and Penalties was updated in March 2010, a process that began in September 2009 and took place with full consultation across the sport. At its conclusion, a number of ‘integrity’ penalty ranges and entry points were significantly increased, with much public comment at the time.
“The BHA never gave permission to Harry Findlay to lay horses in yards where he has horses in training. At a meeting on 24th November 2008, Mr Findlay was reminded that it was a breach of the Rules of Racing to place lay bets on horses owned by him, including those registered in the name of his mother. He was also reminded of the Code of Conduct for racehorse owners, which states that they should ‘Refrain from laying any horse from a yard where you have a horse in training’. Mr Findlay accepted the warning and gave assurances that he would neither lay his own horses nor those trained in the same yard.
“Subsequently Betfair drew Mr Findlay’s lay betting to our attention, as the company is compelled to do under the terms of its Gambling Commission licence. Mr Findlay admitted the breaches to the Disciplinary Panel and gave several different explanations for the bets.
“The Disciplinary Panel acts independently of the Authority. The Authority’s interaction with the Panel is through representations we make during the course of a hearing. The Disciplinary Panel is chaired by an independent lawyer of considerable experience in these cases and detailed reasons are published online. The case concerning Mr Findlay was no different. It is for the Panel to decide what penalty to apply, and proportionality is a factor which the Panel will always apply its mind to. This includes how one case sits with another. The penalty imposed by the Panel went significantly below the 18 month entry point for the offence. The Panel was clear in its view that this was more than a ‘technical’ breach.
“The Authority strongly advised Mr Findlay to be legally represented at the hearing, particularly bearing in mind the published range of penalty and “entry point”. Mr Findlay chose not to be legally represented. The Authority’s case was presented by the Head of Compliance and Licensing, Oliver Codrington. However he also gave some assistance to Mr Findlay as a matter of good practice, drawing numerous mitigating factors to the attention of the Panel which the Authority considered that a representative for Mr. Findlay might make. Mr Findlay has until the end of this week to lodge his appeal and an Appeal Board hearing will be convened as a matter of expedition as is the norm.
“Mr. Findlay suggests there to have been a personal dimension to the outcome of this case. This suggestion is entirely wrong. The Rules of Racing apply equally to all. No one person is bigger than the sport as a whole, and it is the role of the Authority to carry out our regulatory responsibility on behalf of the whole sport. This includes setting out clear rules, clear processes, and making sure they are published and open.”