22 May 2013 Pre-2014 Releases

Eddie Ahern

1. The Panel found Ahern in breach of Rule (A)41.2. That breach included a stopping ride of JUDGETHEMOMENT (USA), in further breach of Rule (B)59.2. So the Panel took the starting point for the (A)41.2 breach to be the disqualification appropriate for this stopping ride. That required an assessment first of all of whether 8 years was appropriate for the (B)59.2 breach in this case.

2. Ahern is a mature jockey who had no excuse of youth or vulnerability for his stopping ride of JUDGETHEMOMENT (USA). Against that it was said that he is a careless, garrulous person who did not do this out of malice but out of stupidity. That may be so, but it remains the fact that a stopping ride, even of a horse unlikely to win, remains the cardinal sin that a jockey can commit. Mr Harvie QC, on Ahern’s behalf, said that, on the Panel’s findings, Ahern’s ride on JUDGETHEMOMENT (USA) was “assuring a result which was already assured”. The answer to that is firstly that nobody knows how JUDGETHEMOMENT (USA) would have performed if ridden on its merits and secondly that if it was bound to finish unplaced as he suggested, then Ahern had no reason to give it a stopping ride.

3. It was also submitted that an 8 year penalty was out of line with what would happen in other sports, and is too lengthy for “a moment of madness”. The stopping ride was more than a mere momentary act. It was planned and done for reward, the Panel decided. The Panel was not equipped with the detail to enable a comparison of the approach to dishonesty in other sports even if such an exercise is appropriate, so can say little about it. So far as racing is concerned, the Panel can see why the starting point is at that level. Stopping a horse is just about the worst breach a jockey can commit, and all must understand that potentially career ending penalties will follow.

4. The Panel therefore decided that an 8 year disqualification was appropriate for the (B)59.2 element of the conspiracy.

5. It was decided to impose a further 2 year disqualification for the other aspects of the conspiracy in which Ahern was engaged, i.e. the passing of inside information to Mr Clement for reward in four other instances occurring between September 2010 and February 2011.

6. Accordingly for the breach of Rule (A)41.2, Ahern was disqualified for 10 years with immediate effect.

7. The penalty for breach of Rule (B)59.2 was a disqualification of 8 years, for the reasons already stated, to run concurrently with the disqualification for the Rule (A)41.2. breach. The disqualification runs from Wednesday 22 May 2013 until 21 May 2023 inclusive.

8. An application to mitigate the effect of the penalty pending an appeal was made. The Panel was asked to allow Ahern to work in racing, though not to ride in races while an appeal was pending. But paragraph 20 of Schedule (A)6 indicates that that should not be countenanced at the penalties hearing but made in writing later. So the application was refused.

Neil Clement

9. In his case, the Panel was required to assess appropriate penalties for four matters:-

i) Rule (A)41.2 for the Ahern conspiracy
ii) Rule (A)41.2 for the STONEACRE GARETH (IRE) conspiracy
iii) Rule (A)50.2 for failure to co-operate with the enquiry
iv) Rule (E)92.2 for lay betting against his own horse, HINDU KUSH (IRE).

10. For the conspiracy in relation to Ahern, which included Ahern’s stopping ride of JUDGETHEMOMENT (USA), the Panel imposed the same penalty as on Ahern, namely a disqualification of 10 years. It was not possible to treat either Ahern or Mr Clement as the leading light in their enterprise: they bore equal responsibility from what was revealed to the Panel.

11. For the conspiracy in relation to the STONEACRE GARETH (IRE) race, a disqualification of 4 years was imposed. This was a separate enterprise from the Ahern conspiracy, so the penalty is consecutive. It had the unattractive aspect that Mr Clement managed to involve his friend Mr Turl to finance the corrupt betting. No credit was due for admission of this at the outset of the enquiry, because the case against him was made overwhelming by the admissions of Mr Clutterbuck and Mr Turl.

12. For the failure to co-operate with the enquiry, a further consecutive disqualification of 1 year and a fine of £3,000 was imposed. The reason for this fine was that Mr Clement’s non co-operation caused serious expense to the BHA, including the costs of a Court application to procure disclosure of his telephone records. Having imposed that fine, the disqualification period was reduced from the entry point of 18 months to 12 months.

13. The lay bet against his own horse, HINDU KUSH (IRE), was made in February 2011. He risked £62 to win £10. While that may be small in money terms, it remains an important requirement that owners should not abuse their privileged access to inside information by placing lay bets against horses they own. No explanation for it was given by Mr Clement. A disqualification of 3 months was imposed, at the bottom of the recommended range and below the entry point of 18 months because of the small amount involved. This disqualification is to run consecutively to the others.

14. Hence Mr Clement was disqualified for a total of 15 years and 3 months, and fined £3,000. The disqualification runs from Wednesday 1 May 2013, the day when he was disqualified on the last day of the hearing, subject to a later determination of the appropriate period (see paragraph 5 of the Reasons for Decision). The disqualification period ends on 31 July 2028.