British officials agree to lift ban on Fergal Lynch and clear him for return at Ayr
Derry-born rider Fergal Lynch has been granted permission to ride in Britain again after the British Horseracing Authority consented to lift his ban on an initial one-year basis.
After an Old Bailey race-fixing trial collapsed seven years ago, Lynch admitted stopping Bond City from winning at Ripon in 2004 and supplying the subsequently warned-off Miles Rodgers with inside information for reward. He agreed not to apply for a licence to ride in Britain for at least a year and paid a £50,000 fine as part of his plea bargain.
Lynch (36) went on to ply his trade in America and Spain and then rode on his Spanish licence here in 2011, before his licence application to the Turf Club was successful in 2012. David Marnane, whom he has not ridden for in recent weeks, became Lynch's chief source of winners and he also forged fruitful partnerships with Eddie Lynam and Michael O'Callaghan en route to accruing 53 Irish winners after his 2011 BHA licence application failed.
Subject to certain criteria being met, Monday's meeting at Ayr – where O'Callaghan has entries – is pencilled in for Lynch's cross-channel return , though he has agreed not to apply for a British licence until the 12-month trial period is up.
"We were aware that we had to balance the reputation of the sport against assessment of the individual merits of his application," read a BHA statement on the decision. "We have reached the conclusion that it would be fair and reasonable to permit Lynch to ride in Britain.
"He accepts the severity of the fine and sanctions that were imposed upon him and the consequences they had on his career and he has shown that he possesses the qualities to abide by the rules of other jurisdictions during his time riding in Ireland and overseas."
Lynch's solicitor, Harry Stewart-Moore, said his client was "a changed man" and that he was determined to "rebuild his reputation" in British racing.
Meanwhile, at Sligo last night, in-form apprentice Gary Halpin recorded a double which included success in the featured Connacht Oaks aboard Rayna for John Oxx.
Halpin was always travelling well aboard the 11/8 favourite, which edged out Dragon Fei by a head. The 7lb claimer initiated his brace in the nursery on Patrick Prendergast's Splashtop which beat the Tom Cleary-trained Cleano to justify 100/30 favouritism
Cleary enjoyed better luck in the Connacht Derby as his Queen Of Alba took the spoils in the hands of the trainer's son, Rory, who steered the 9/1 shot over five lengths clear of runner-up Corona Borealis.
Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning combined to take the opening juvenile auction maiden with debutant Vocal Nation. The 9/2 third favourite came with a storming run up the straight to pip Newton Bomb, giving Bolger's stallion Vocalised his first win on a racecourse.
Across the water, reigning champion jockey Richard Hughes closed the gap on current leader Ryan Moore, who started the day 20 ahead, by landing a brilliant 94/1 four-timer at Brighton.