The Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (“BHA”) held an enquiry on 12th and 13th February 2013 to determine whether Mr James Babbs, a registered owner, or Mr John Celaschi were in breach of the Rules of Racing.
1.1 Mr James Babbs
1.1.1 Was Mr Babbs in breach of Rule (E)92 by:
(a) Laying geldings he owned (ISTIQDAAM and BOLD ADVENTURE) to lose; and/or
(b) Instructing another person to do so on his behalf; and/or
(c) Receiving the whole, or any part of, any proceeds of such a lay bet;
Or, in the alternative,
1.1.2 Was Mr Babbs in breach of Rule (A)37 by assisting and/or causing the commission of a corrupt or fraudulent practice by Mr Celaschi (namely the placing of lay bets on ISTIQDAAM and BOLD ADVENTURE with the benefit of Inside Information in breach of Rule (A)41) by communicating Inside Information to Mr Celaschi knowing that Mr Celaschi would use it for such a corrupt or fraudulent practice.
1.2 Mr John Celaschi
1.2.1 Was Mr Celaschi in breach of Rule (A)37 of the Rules by assisting Mr Babbs to lay a gelding of which Mr Babbs was the owner in breach of Rule (E)92;
Or, in the alternative,
1.2.2 Is Mr Celaschi in breach of Rule (A)41 by committing a corrupt or fraudulent practice in relation to racing in Great Britain by laying ISTIQDAAM and BOLD ADVENTURE with the benefit of Inside Information relating to the prospects of the geldings in these races.
2. The Races
2.1 The enquiry focused on three races in 2010:
2.1.1 On 21 January 2010, ISTIQDAAM ran in the 14.20 at Southwell in the Vic Leer 60 Years Supporting Chelsea F.C. Handicap. The gelding was trained by Michael Easterby and Philip Makin was the jockey.
2.1.2 On 17 February 2010, BOLD ADVENTURE ran in the 14.30 race at Lingfield in the Bet Asian Handicaps – Betdaq Handicap. The gelding was trained by Willie Musson and Tony Culhane was the jockey.
2.1.3 The third race considered as part of the enquiry was the Bet after the Off at Ladbrokes.Com Handicap which took place on 27 May 2010 at 15.30 at Wolverhampton. BOLD ADVENDURE was still in training with Musson and it was ridden, on this occasion, by Tom Queally; Tony Culhane having opted to ride the favourite, IF I HAD HIM (IRE).
2.2 There was no suggestion that the geldings were ridden other than on their merits in all three races.
3. Preliminary Application
3.1 At the outset of the case, Leading Counsel, Ian Winter QC, on behalf of Mr Babbs and Mr Celaschi made an application for a number of issues to be determined. The Panel declined to determine the application save for one issue.
3.2 The issue on which the Panel substantively ruled was the application to exclude the evidence of Mr Tom Chignell, the BHA’s Principal Betting Investigator, on the grounds that it amounted to no more than a commentary on primary evidence, was from a source not independent of the BHA, was not from an expert and amounted to a self-serving opinion from someone paid by the BHA to express it. The Panel determined to admit Mr Chignell’s evidence but noted that the weight it could attach to the evidence would be determined by its analysis of the above factors.
3.3 The remaining issues which the Panel did not address concerned a series of declarations sought as to the interpretation of the Rules of Racing and in particular their application regarding Inside Information. The Panel determined that it would address such matters as and when they arose within the factual matrix of the extant case.
4. The Respondents
4.1 When reviewing the factual issues in this case, the Panel did so mindful of the background of the two individuals and in particular their financial circumstances.
4.2 Mr Babbs was a part owner of both the geldings which were the focus of the enquiry. He co-owned ISTIQDAAM with a Mr Andrew Duke in a partnership called ‘Old Pals’. He was also a part owner alongside Mr Duke and Musson of BOLD ADVENTURE in a partnership called ‘The Adventurers’.
4.3 Both Mr Babbs and Mr Celaschi have worked for many years at Investment Banks in the City of London and, by any standards, are wealthy. As demonstrated from examination of their bookmakers’ accounts, they could afford regularly to wager sums of £10,000 on a race and not be unduly concerned to lose.
4.4 Mr Celaschi noted in his correspondence with the BHA “I am in the fortunate position where I can afford to bet big and I do. The potential losses on the two horses you have highlighted, as you can see, were nothing out of the ordinary for me”.
4.5 Often cases of alleged corruption brought before the Disciplinary Panel relate to individuals who have, as a result of corrupt or fraudulent activity, won thousands of pounds laying horses. In most cases such sums of money are extremely significant when one takes into context the background financial circumstances of the individuals. In this case Mr Babbs and Mr Celaschi were confident to risk very significant sums when betting on horses. The Panel was mindful that the financial standing of the respondents changed the perspective with which the facts of the case were viewed.
5. Patterns of Betting
5.1 Alongside details of the bets laid in the three races, the Panel was presented with a wider breakdown of the telephone records and betting accounts of Mr Babbs, Mr Celaschi and Mr Duke (the co-owner of ISTIQDAAM and BOLD ADVENTURE).
5.2 It was clear from these telephone records that Mr Babbs was in frequent contact with both Mr Celaschi and Mr Duke not only on race days but also more generally. The records reflected their assertion that they were friends who were in regular contact with one another.
5.3 The betting accounts revealed a significant degree of collaboration between the three individuals. Analysis of the accounts showed a pattern of lawful back betting whereby Mr Duke and Mr Celaschi would bet on the same horse and often Mr Babbs would place a similar bet. The evidence showed that Mr Celaschi regularly bet in collaboration with Mr Babbs and Mr Duke.
5.4 Mr Celaschi’s evidence at the enquiry that he bet independently was not accepted by the Panel in the light of this betting evidence. The Panel concluded from its review of the betting timelines and telephone calls that the three individuals regularly collaborated in discussing and placing bets. Bets were often struck within seconds of each other and Mr Celaschi repeatedly placed bets following a communication from Mr Babbs.
6. The Races – Betting and Telephone Records
6.1 As part of the enquiry, the Panel received a report from Mr Chignell, and had the opportunity to hear him give evidence and be cross-examined. It did not attach any weight to his opinion on the facts of this case. In the Panel’s view the documentary evidence extracted from the phone and betting records as set out below provided cogent evidence on which it could rely when determining the sequence of events that had taken place.
6.2 As to the races, on 21 January 2010, Mr Celaschi layed ISTIQDAAM with a liability of £4,706.54 in the place market. The gelding was not placed and the account made a profit of £2,341. The lay bet was the sixth largest lay liability taken on his account. At the time it was the largest lay liability that he had placed since May 2006. Mr Babbs did not bet on the gelding.
6.3 As compared to the other Betfair accounts which layed ISTIQDAAM, Mr Celaschi’s lay bet was three times greater than the second largest lay. The gelding was sent off second favourite at 5/1 with Mr Celaschi laying the gelding in the place market at prices between 2.3 and 3.2.
6.4 The telephone records examined by the Panel showed a series of communications via texts and calls on 20 January 2010, between Mr Duke and Mr Babbs, and a 4 minute, 18 second call from Mr Duke to Easterby, the trainer of ISTIQDAAM. On 21 January 2010 at 07.42 and then 07.50 Mr Babbs sent two texts to Mr Celaschi and at 09.10 Mr Babbs called Mr Celaschi’s mobile phone for a period of 6 minutes, 56 seconds.
6.5 During that morning, Mr Duke spoke to Easterby for 2 minutes, 42 seconds at 10.07 following which Mr Duke and Mr Babbs exchanged a text and a call for 4 minutes, 48 seconds. That call concluded at around 10.36. 11 minutes later, at 10.47, Mr Duke called a bookmaker, Sunderlands, with whom he had an account and placed a bet for £1,500 each way on a gelding called PROHIBITION (IRE) that was running in the same race.
6.6 At 12.03 Mr Duke called Mr Babbs for 7 minutes, 5 seconds. At 13.42 Mr Babbs sent a text to Mr Celaschi and then, 6 minutes later, at 13.48, Mr Babbs called Mr Celaschi for 2 minutes, 50 seconds. That call ended at approximately 13.51. 9 minutes later, at 14.00, Mr Celaschi logged on to his Betfair account. At 14.16 Mr Celaschi deposited £5,000 into the Betfair account. Between 14.17 and 14.22 he engaged in fifteen transactions placing lay bets on ISTIQDAAM to a liability of £4,707. Mr Celaschi also placed a £3,000 bet on PROHIBITION (IRE).
6.7 ISTIQDAAM came tenth of the eleven runners. Following the race, thirteen text messages were sent between Mr Babbs and Mr Celaschi.
6.8 The next race in question was on 17 February 2010 when BOLD ADVENTURE ran at Lingfield. On this occasion the Celaschi account layed BOLD ADVENTURE the evening before the race between 20.32 and 21.39.
6.9 Communications between the parties began in the early morning on 16 February 2010. Mr Babbs texted Mr Duke three times at 06.52, 06.54 and 06.55 and Mr Duke called Mr Babbs for 9 minutes, 47 seconds at 07.00. Mr Duke then texted Musson five times after 07.48 and before 11.44 when he then called Musson for 11 minutes and 2 seconds. Before that call Mr Duke had sent twenty-five text messages to Mr Babbs and spoke with him for 9 minutes, 26 seconds. He had also spoken to Mr Babbs in a call lasting for 35 seconds immediately before the call to Musson.
6.10 After the call between Mr Duke and Musson at 11.44, Mr Babbs sent Mr Duke a text message at 12.07 and at 12.15 Mr Duke called Mr Babbs for 4 minutes and 27 seconds. Just over ½ an hour later, at 12.56, Mr Babbs logged on to his Betfair account using the same computer which was used to log on to Mr Celaschi’s Betfair account later the same day. At the same time he also sent Mr Duke a text message. During the rest of the afternoon, and early evening, Mr Babbs and Mr Duke continued to be in frequent communication exchanging seven texts and five calls lasting for 4 seconds, 51 seconds, 3 seconds, 3 seconds and 5 minutes, 54 seconds following which Mr Babbs texted Mr Duke at 16.37 and 17.06.
6.11 Shortly afterwards the following series of events took place. At 19.57 Mr Duke called Mr Babbs for 1 minute, 51 seconds. During that call Mr Babbs logged onto his Betfair account. Immediately after that call Mr Babbs called Musson at 20.00 for 18 minutes, 24 seconds. Straight after that call Mr Babbs rang Mr Celaschi at 20.18 for 5 minutes, 58 seconds. Seconds after that call had finished Mr Celaschi’s Betfair Account was logged onto and a series of lay bets were made on BOLD ADVENTURE. No bets were made by Mr Babbs or Mr Celaschi on the gelding the following day. In total, the Celaschi account risked £483.67 and won £80 when the gelding did not win.
6.12 Records from Betfair show that the same IP address was used to log on to Mr Babbs’s Betfair account at 12.56: and again at 19.58. At 20.24, approximately 26 minutes later, Mr Celaschi’s account was logged on to also using the same IP address and was further accessed from that address at 21.01. On each of these four occasions the log-on’s used the same “cookie” which established that the same computer was used to log onto Mr Babbs and Mr Celaschi’s Betfair Accounts.
6.13 The last race considered by the Panel was on 27 May 2010 when Mr Celaschi layed BOLD ADVENTURE. His liability on the race was £14,144.16 and he made a profit of £2,701.03 when the gelding came fifth out of ten runners. The gelding had been sent off 5/1 second joint favourite. Mr Celaschi’s lay bet on BOLD ADVENTURE was significantly larger than any other of the 1,504 bets placed on his Betfair account, being nearly £6,000 larger than the second largest lay liability on the account, placed five years previously. As to the market, the lay bet on BOLD ADVENTURE was the largest lay liability made by any customer on Betfair.
6.14 The telephone records show that on 26 May 2010, the day before the 15.30 race Mr Babbs called Musson for 5 minutes 57 seconds that day.
6.15 On the day of the race, Musson called Mr Duke at 06.44 for 54 seconds. Mr Babbs sent four texts to Mr Duke around 08.00 and one text to Mr Celaschi at 08.34. At 09.04, Mr Duke had a 6 minute, 29 second call with Musson. As soon as he finished that call Mr Duke called Mr Babbs for 8 minutes, 26 seconds.
6.16 Later in the morning Mr Babbs sent two texts to Mr Celaschi at 11.43 and 11.53. Then at 12.07 Mr Babbs exchanged a text and a 1 minute, 8 second call at 12.43 with Mr Duke before Mr Babbs texted Musson at 13.17. Musson returned that text with a call at 14.17 for a period of 2 minutes, 5 seconds. Immediately after that call, Mr Babbs sent a text to Mr Duke at 14.20 and then at 14.21 he called Mr Celaschi for 10 minutes, 23 seconds. 9 minutes before the off, Mr Babbs sent a text to Mr Celaschi and, within 2 minutes of that text, Mr Celaschi conducted the first of nine transactions on his Betfair account laying BOLD ADVENTURE. Those transactions took place between 15.23 and 15.29. Following the race at 15.30, Mr Babbs called Mr Celaschi three times at 15.35.
6.17 On 27 May 2010 Mr Babbs backed BOLD ADVENTURE in a £5 each way ‘Lucky 15 Bet’ at 13.10. His Position changed after his text and call to Musson at 14.17 when he backed BROUGHTONS POINT another gelding trained by Musson at 15.23 with a stake of £21.40.
7. 21 January 2010 and 27 May 2010 – The Evidence
7.1 The Panel’s analysis divided the races into two different categories. The first and last races in January and May followed a similar pattern.
7.2 In relation to both these races, calls were made to the trainer by Mr Duke prior to the race following which Mr Duke spoke with Mr Babbs; on 21 January 2010, Mr Duke spoke to Easterby at 10.07 following which Mr Duke called Mr Babbs and spoke with him for nearly 5 minutes. On 27 May 2010 Mr Duke had a 6 minute call with Musson following which he called Mr Babbs and spoke with him for 8 minutes.
7.3 Likewise a pattern of calls occurred prior to Mr Celaschi laying ISTIQDAAM on 21 Jan and BOLD ADVENTURE on 27 May. On both occasions Mr Babbs contacted Mr Celaschi (following the call with Mr Duke as set out in the above paragraph) and subsequent to the call, Mr Celaschi commenced his lay betting on Betfair; on 21 January Mr Babbs called Mr Celaschi for nearly 3 minutes. That call ended at approximately 13.51 and at 14.16 Mr Celaschi deposited £5,000 into the Betfair account. Between 14.17 and 14.22 he engaged in fifteen transactions placing lay bets on ISTIQDAAM. On 27 May, Mr Babbs called Mr Celaschi for 10 minutes at 14.21. An hour later, 9 minutes before the off, Mr Babbs sent a text to Mr Celaschi and, within 2 minutes of that text, Mr Celaschi conducted the first of nine transactions on his Betfair account laying BOLD ADVENTURE.
7.4 These bets were outside the normal pattern of Mr Celaschi’s betting which was almost exclusively back betting. The Panel considered why this was the case. Mr Celaschi in evidence told the Panel that he decided to place the lay bets since he knew Mr Duke and Mr Babbs were not backing their gelding – indeed Mr Celaschi followed Mr Duke backing PROHIBITION (IRE) for £3,000 on 21 January 2010. Mr Celaschi also listed other factors that he said influenced him to lay the geldings; he noted that ISTIQDAAM was racing over a longer distance and had not stayed the distance previously and BOLD ADVENTURE had risen in the handicap and on 27 May the normal jockey Tony Culhane, who had previously been successful on the gelding had chosen to ride another gelding in that race.
7.5 Mr Celaschi said that he felt ‘bad’ laying his friends’ geldings and did not tell them. Mr Babbs said it had not occurred to him that Mr Celaschi was laying the geldings and was ‘angry, shocked and dismayed’ when he learnt he had.
7.6 The Panel did not accept Mr Babbs’s and Mr Celaschi’s evidence as truthful when judged against
• the backdrop and timing of the telephone conversations with the trainer
• the proximity of Mr Celaschi’s betting activity following calls from Mr Babbs.
• The fact and size of the lay bet when compared with Mr Celaschi’s general betting habits – Mr Celaschi’s Betfair account placed 1,505 bets from 16 June 2003 to 27 May 2010. In that period only 27 (1.8%) of the bets were lay bets. The remainder were back bets. In the period May 2006 to May 2010 only 9 lay bets were placed.
• The fact that the only lay bets placed in the eleven months prior to the suspension of Mr Celaschi’s Betfair account were on the geldings owned by Mr Babbs
• the betting relationship between Mr Celaschi, Mr Babbs and Mr Duke
• the confidence shown in laying a gelding which was one of the more fancied runners in the race
• the friendship between Mr Celaschi and Mr Babbs who admitted that in the course of their betting relationship they would transfer money between each others accounts and share passwords to their betting accounts
• by 16 February 2010 there was unequivocal evidence that Mr Babbs knew that Mr Celaschi layed horses and moreover horses owned by him (see account of the race on 17 February 2010 below). Mr Babbs was untruthful to the BHA Investigators when telling them ‘I did not know for one second he [Mr Celaschi] layed horses’
7.7 The Panel concluded that when calling the trainers, Mr Duke discussed the prospects for the geldings. Although there is no record of the conversation the clear inference from the subsequent events was that the trainers gave a negative opinion for both the races and in consequence Mr Duke and Mr Babbs decided not to back their geldings. (Betting records show that Mr Duke and Mr Babbs backed their geldings in other races; sometimes in conjunction with Mr Celaschi and with very successful results. On 12 March 2010 Mr Duke, Mr Babbs and Mr Celaschi won £30,000, £33,667 and £77,795 respectively backing BOLD ADVENTURE in the 20:20 at Wolverhampton.)
7.8 The negative information from the trainers was Inside Information not promulgated to, or known by, the wider racing public. The clear inference from the evidence is that Mr Duke passed this information to Mr Babbs who in turn passed this on to Mr Celaschi – this gave Mr Celaschi confidence to lay the geldings despite being sent off at odds suggesting the market believed the geldings had a good chance of winning – reflected in the fact that Mr Celaschi did not need to push out the odds to attract punters on Betfair to take his money.
7.9 In the light of the close relationship between Mr Babbs and Mr Celaschi, the Panel considered that it would be fanciful to accept the notion that Mr Babbs would inform Mr Celaschi that he was backing another gelding rather than his own and for Mr Celaschi not ask why that was the case. The Panel simply did not believe that Mr Babbs and Mr Celaschi would not have discussed Mr Babbs’s decision and the detailed basis for it. The Panel concluded that the evidence allowed them to draw a clear inference that Mr Babbs knew that Mr Celaschi was going to lay the geldings with the benefit of the Inside Information.
7.10 The Panel did not believe that Mr Celaschi provided financial reward to Mr Babbs for this information. The two individuals were by their own admission friends. Both agreed that they were used to receiving tips about the prospects of a horse that they would sometimes act upon. Trading tips was part of their way of life in the City. The sums of money won on these races – although considerable by normal standards – was a secondary issue. The opportunity to win against the market was, in the Panel’s view, the primary motivation for this behaviour. The sums of money won would have been welcome but they were not so significant to be a major factor in this case.
7.11 For these reasons the Panel determined that Mr Babbs was in breach of Rule (A)37 by assisting the commission of a fraudulent practice by Mr Celaschi (namely the placing of lay bets on ISTIQDAAM on 21 January 2010 and BOLD ADVENTURE on 27 May 2010 with the benefit of Inside Information in breach of Rule (A)41) by communicating Inside Information to Mr Celaschi knowing that Mr Celaschi would use it for such a fraudulent practice.
7.12 The Panel further determined that Mr Celaschi was in breach of Rule (A)41 by committing a fraudulent practice in relation to racing in Great Britain by laying ISTIQDAAM on 21 January 2010 and BOLD ADVENTURE on 27 May 2010 with the benefit of Inside Information relating to the prospects of the geldings in these races. Mr Celaschi unfairly profited from his lay betting by using Inside Information provided to him by Mr Babbs.
8. 17 February 2010
8.1 The motive for the betting on BOLD ADVENTURE on 12 February 2010 was in the Panel’s view of a different nature to the other races. On this occasion Mr Babbs used Mr Celaschi’s Betfair account to lay BOLD ADVENTURE the evening before the race between 20.32 and 21.39.
9. Ownership of Bold Adventure
9.1 In determining the issues in this case a preliminary matter fell to be considered namely whether Mr Babbs was actually a co-owner of BOLD ADVENTURE at the time of the race on 21 February 2010. The Panel had the benefit of hearing from Mr Babbs directly on the issue and had a transcript of an interview conducted by the BHA Integrity department with Musson. The Panel was mindful it had not had the opportunity to cross examine Musson and recognised the lesser weight it should give to his evidence accordingly.
9.2 Mr Babbs explained to the Panel how he and Mr Duke met with Musson at the end of January 2010. Musson by his own admission needed some cash to help with his business needs and sought to persuade Mr Duke and Mr Babbs to take a share in BOLD ADVENTURE. It was agreed that Mr Babbs and Mr Duke would transfer some cash to Musson and he would subsequently raise an invoice. Mr Babbs’s evidence to the Panel was that he was not buying into a particular horse when he transferred money to Musson but was ‘buying into the yard’ and that he would agree with Musson which horse to purchase at a later date. Mr Babbs’s explanation for his phone call with Musson on 20 February 2010 was that Musson was still trying to persuade him to buy a part share in BOLD ADVENTURE. The part shares in the gelding were formally registered to Mr Duke and Mr Babbs on 8 April 2010.
9.3 Mr Babbs’s bank statements revealed that he made three payments to Musson at the end of January on three consecutive days. Bank account statements from Willie Musson Racing Limited showed receipt of £10,000 on 28 January 2010 from Babbs JE “BOLD ADVENTURE”, £10,000 on 29 January 2010 from Babbs JE “BOLD ADVENTURE” and £1,150 on 1 February 2010 from Babbs JE “BOLD ADVENTURE”. The amounts corresponded to payments from Mr Babbs’s account. The Panel noted the significance of the money leaving Mr Babbs’s account being marked ‘BOLD ADVENTURE’. It considered this a clear indication that Mr Babbs wanted Musson to know that the money was transferred in respect of the purchase of BOLD ADVENTURE.
9.4 Invoices for the sale of the shares to Mr Duke and Mr Babbs in BOLD ADVENTURE were raised by Willie Musson Racing Limited and dated 1 April 2010. These were for the sum of £12,272.37 including VAT.
9.5 In the transcript of his interview, Musson acknowledged that Mr Babbs had questioned the price of the gelding after the agreement was made at the initial meeting but said that Mr Duke told him not to worry and that he would ‘talk him round’. Musson considered that Mr Duke and Mr Babbs became part owners when the final tranche of the payment came through on 1 February 2010. His evidence was that he forgot to complete the paperwork until he was reminded in March after the gelding had won when one of the pair rang him to say they had not had any bills yet.
9.6 The Panel did not believe Mr Babbs’s version of the events. It concluded that the legal title in BOLD ADVENTURE passed to Mr Babbs and Mr Duke on 1 February 2010 when the final tranche of the payment was transferred to Musson’s bank. The change of registration with the BHA and the raising of the invoice did not delay the passage of legal title. The fact that the gelding’s name was mentioned on the bank transfer details to Musson was conclusive in the Panel’s view. It accorded with Musson’s recollection of events that on 1 February 2010 the individuals became part owners of the gelding and he treated them as such when he spoke to them. It did not believe Mr Babbs’s version of events that he was ‘buying into the yard.’ The Panel believed he invented this version of events to try and avoid criticism for his actions in relation to the betting on BOLD ADVENTURE on 16 February 2010.
10. 17 February 2010 – The Evidence
10.1 Communications between the parties began in the early morning of 16 February 2010 – the day before the race at Lingfield. Mr Duke texted Musson the trainer and called him just before midday for 11 minutes. Before that call Mr Duke had sent twenty-five text messages to Mr Babbs and spoke to him twice.
10.2 After the call with Musson, Mr Duke remained in regular contact with Mr Babbs throughout the rest of the day. That evening Mr Babbs called Musson at 20.00 for nearly 20 minutes following which he immediately called Mr Celaschi. Seconds after that call had finished Mr Celaschi’s Betfair Account was logged onto by Mr Babbs and a series of lay bets were made on BOLD ADVENTURE. The account risked £483.67 and won £80 when the gelding did not win the following day.
10.3 The oral evidence from Mr Babbs and Mr Celaschi on the events of this evening lacked clarity and, in the Panel’s view, was at times untruthful. Mr Babbs asserted that on the evening of 16 February 2010 he spoke with Musson to further discuss whether to buy a share in BOLD ADVENTURE.
10.4 Mr Babbs told the Panel he could not remember how the bet on Mr Celaschi’s account came to be placed. He said he knew Mr Celaschi’s log on details. He could not explain why he had layed the gelding for Mr Celaschi for such a derisory amount. Mr Babbs said he had ‘wracked his brains’ prior to the enquiry but just could not recall the details of what had happened that evening. Mr Babbs when questioned said the bet may have been to try and ‘move the market’ by creating a better price for the following day. He did not see anything wrong laying BOLD ADVENTURE for another person on their Betfair account. He acknowledged that with hindsight his actions had been ‘crass and stupid’.
10.5 Mr Babbs suggested to the Panel that one of the reasons that he may have used Mr Celaschi’s Betfair account was that he had a zero balance in his own account. He acknowledged when questioned that he could have topped up his own Betfair account rather than using Mr Celaschi’s.
10.6 Mr Celaschi told the Panel that he remembered receiving a call from Mr Babbs on the evening of the 16 February 2010 when he was on his way to a concert. He said he asked Mr Babbs to lay BOLD ADVENTURE and see what effect this had on the market the following day; the idea being to obtain a favourable price. When the price did not move he did not back the gelding.
10.7 In the Panel’s view there was a clear inference from the evidence as to the sequence of events that took place. BOLD ADVENTURE was, by 16 February 2010, part owned by Mr Duke and Mr Babbs and Mr Babbs knew this. On the evening of 16 February, the real reason Mr Babbs spoke to Musson was to determine the prospects of the gelding winning or being placed the following day. n the light of that conversation, Mr Babbs decided to try and manipulate the market with some betting that evening to see if it could reach a position where he was prepared to back the gelding. Being the part owner of BOLD ADVENTURE and mindful of the prohibition on owners laying their horses, he phoned Mr Celaschi and obtained his account details before logging on and making the lay bets on Mr Celaschi’s account. Mr Babbs’s motivation was not to make money from the lay bet. He sought to move the odds on his gelding by asking another to lay it and committed an offence in doing so. Mr Babbs was not acting as Mr Celaschi’s agent since in the Panel’s view he had commissioned the bet and sought to disguise its true origin by asking Mr Celaschi to place it on his behalf.
10.8 The Panel concluded that Mr Babbs was in breach of Rule (E)92 by instructing Mr Celaschi to lay BOLD ADVENTURE on his behalf. This finding is made despite Mr Babbs being the person who was responsible for the physical act of logging onto Mr Celaschi’s account and making the lay bet. In the Panel’s view Mr Babbs had asked Mr Celaschi to lay the gelding and this occasioned the breach.
10.9 For his part, Mr Celaschi was in breach of Rule (A)37 by assisting Mr Babbs to lay a gelding of which Mr Babbs was owner in breach of Rule (E)92.
11.1 The Panel carefully considered the submissions regarding sanction made on behalf of the BHA and Mr Babbs and Mr Celaschi.
11.2 At the time of its deliberations concerning Penalty, the 2013 Guide to Penalties and Procedures (“the 2013 Guide”) was in force and the Panel has followed this edition noting the sanctions for breach of (A)41 and (E)92 did not exceed those available under the penalty regime in 2009/2010 albeit that the recommended entry points have been increased.
11.3 The range of sanctions provided by the 2013 Guide for a breach of (A)41 is 6 months to 10 years disqualification/exclusion with an entry point of 3 years. For a breach of (E)92 the range is 3 months to 10 years disqualification/exclusion with an entry point of 18 months. The penalty for a breach of (A)37 is to be found under the offence which the individual assisted in the breach.
11.4 Mr Babbs, is to be sanctioned for two breaches of Rule (A)37 (assisting Mr Celaschi in two breaches of Rule (A)41) and for a single breach of Rule (E)92 in respect of laying BOLD ADVENTURE on 16 February 2010.
11.5 Mr Celaschi is to be sanctioned for two breaches of Rule (A)41 and for a single breach of Rule (E)92 in respect of assisting Mr Babbs to lay BOLD ADVENTURE on 16 February 2010.
11.6 As an owner, Mr Babbs was required to observe certain strictures regarding the information he received as a result of his position as an owner. Receipt of such Inside Information is both a burden and a benefit of ownership.
11.7 As a matter of routine Mr Babbs would have been informed about the prospects of his horses through conversations with his trainers or via his co-owner, Mr Duke, who often took the lead in such discussions. Such information was not known to the general public and was Inside Information. It enabled him to make an informed choice as to whether to back his horse in a particular race – it put him in a better position than the general public. It is one of the privileges of ownership to receive such information.
11.8 The Rules of Racing permit that such Inside Information may be provided to another as long as it is for no reward. It was open to Mr Babbs to share this information with Mr Celaschi as long as there was no payment or