Eight men, including the trainer Paul Blockley and the jockey Dean
McKeown, were warned off yesterday as racing's latest corruption inquiry came
to a close.
A disciplinary panel
of the British Horseracing Authority painted a grim picture of a gambling den
in which conspirators would cheer the defeat of horses they had bet against
before phoning unnamed racing professionals to say "job done".
48, was warned off for four years and Blockley for two and a half, both having
been found to be part of a conspiracy that made a net profit of £61,909
from lay bets on the Betfair betting exchange. There was no evidence that
either man gained from the gambling, which was carried out by others after
Blockley and McKeown had provided them with inside information. The panel
recommended that Blockley be allowed to work in racing stables for other
Clive Whiting, a
racehorse owner, was warned off for eight years. David Wright and Nicholas Rook
were warned off for six. Three others were warned off for shorter periods,
while owner Derek Lovatt, who gave evidence against a number of his fellow
defendants, was fined £20,000.
The panel found that, from early
2004, several of the conspirators would frequently gather in the boardroom of
Whiting's company, Palmers of Trent Bridge, which sells conservatories, to
gamble and watch races on television.
According to the panel, Lovatt
described "lay bets being placed by Rook on the new computer Clive Whiting had
bought, and of Clive Whiting's close involvement and funding of this. [Lovatt]
described also the enthusiasm with which defeats of Clive Whiting-owned horses
were sometimes received.
"And he heard calls after such races between
Clive Whiting and persons he believed to be a jockey or trainer in which the
message was 'job done'. It became clear to the panel that these calls included
contacts with Blockley."
It has emerged since the hearing that much
video footage of the 11 races involved had been destroyed years ago, as the BHA
had not acted in time to preserve it. The panel noted that this was
"surprising" but stopped short of explicitly condemning the BHA's security
Despite the limited amount of footage available, the panel
was able to find that McKeown did not make sufficient effort on four horses
involved in the case. It concluded that, in three of the races, McKeown mimed
hitting the horse with his whip, in fact delivering air-shots. "There was no
honest explanation for this piece of deception," the panel added.
Blockley said afterwards that he needed time to consider an appeal.
McKeown, who represented himself at a six-day hearing before the panel,
appeared downbeat about his chances of reversing the decision, saying: "If I
appeal, I'll just be appearing in front of three more BHA members."
Asked if he had faith in the disciplinary process, he responded:
"Absolutely none and I don't think anyone in racing does. It's like the Mugabe
situation in Zimbabwe - they're not willing to take notice of anything they
don't agree with. I'm pretty shocked by what's gone on."