05 Oct 2010 Pre-2014 Releases


17.       The Panel has considered the written submissions from the BHA and from Tyrrell and Behan about the matters which should be taken into account when deciding upon the appropriate penalties to be imposed for the breaches of the Rules already found to have occurred when CASELA PARK (IRE) ran at Newcastle on 4 August 2010.

18.       It is first necessary to record one change that needs to be made to paragraph 14 of the Reasons given by the Panel for its findings, where it was said that there was no access to lay betting information from other exchange operators such as Betdaq. In fact, the Panel has now been told that the BHA was informed by Betdaq that there was no untoward lay betting on the race, and therefore records that correction to its reasons. This change makes no difference to the Panel’s decision that there was a breach of the Rules, which proceeded on the basis that there was no unusual lay betting to explain the stopping ride. For the same reason, this amendment has no bearing on the approach to penalty.

19.       The starting point is the indication provided at page 10 of the current edition of the Guide to Procedures and Penalties. For a case where (as held here by the Panel) a horse was deliberately prevented from winning, the Guide suggests a penalty range for both trainer and jockey of 1-5 years’ disqualification, with an entry point of 18 months.

20.       The BHA submitted that there were three aggravating features of this case: the nature of the ride itself; what they describe as “the dishonesty of the ride”; and the untruthful accounts given both to the Newcastle Stewards and the Panel by Tyrrell and Behan.

21.       Both Tyrrell and Behan drew attention, quite properly, to their previous good disciplinary records. They also said they had not gained financially from this race (or the later race at Musselburgh), and each pointed out his parlous financial position. Behan said he had no other source of income but racing. But having had only a few rides in recent years and seemingly riding unpaid work for Tyrrell, it is not clear what income he actually gets from racing. At the enquiry, he said that his only source of money was from family help. Tyrrell’s string has dwindled to just a few horses.

22.       The Panel did not view the nature of the ride or the dishonesty involved in deliberately stopping the horse from winning (which cheated both win and place backers) as particular aggravating features. Cheating of punters will happen whenever a horse is stopped, and the blatant restraint by Behan might even be thought a less insidious danger to the sport than a smoother, less eye-catching ride which also prevents a win. However the evidence given both to the Newcastle Stewards and to the Panel has been found to be deliberately false, and does make the case worse. They did not have to lie when found out.

23.       While it is correct that there is no evidence of financial gain here, that is at least in part because the furore generated by the Newcastle ride caused changed riding plans for Musselburgh, and, perhaps, changed betting plans. Even taking full account of the previous good disciplinary records of both Tyrrell and Behan, the fact remains that they have committed one of the sport’s cardinal sins.

24.       The Panel decided to disqualify Tyrrell and Behan for three years each from 6 October 2010 to 5 October 2013 inclusive. There was no basis for treating Behan more leniently than Tyrrell: though he was clearly struggling as a jockey, there was no hint that he was lent on to do what he did.

25.       The reasons for going beyond the entry point were these. Firstly, their untrue accounts do make worse what happened. Secondly, the Panel formed the view that the entry point (18 months) is pitched too low for what is a fundamental breach of the Rules. It is necessary to impose the 3 year disqualifications both to penalise what they did and to warn others of the consequences of similar riding, which strikes at the very nature of racing.

26.       CASELA PARK (IRE) is also suspended for 42 days from 6 October 2010 to 16 November 2010 inclusive. This raises another problem which troubled the Panel. There is much to be said for the view that the gelding ought not to have been allowed to run at Musselburgh after the determination by the Newcastle Stewards that this was a deliberate failure to run it on its merits. The BHA may wish to consider giving Stewards the power to suspend a horse with immediate effect when they determine that a deliberate breach has occurred, even though the matter has then to be referred to the Disciplinary Panel because the Stewards’ penalty powers are limited. There are no doubt arguments pointing against this (such as the effect on innocent owners and the fact that the betting public is at least warned about a future race when there has been an enquiry that finds deliberate breach). But this present case is one where, in the Panel’s view, the argument for an immediate suspension prevails. What if it had won at Musselburgh and the money had been down, even at cramped odds because of the publicity the Newcastle race had received? That would cause more damage to the reputation of racing than the possible injustice to the owner.