Tuesday 22 October 2019

Ahern found guilty in corruption hearing

Irish jockey Eddie Ahern, here celebrating a Royal Ascot success in 2004, is facing racing corruption charges in England
Irish jockey Eddie Ahern, here celebrating a Royal Ascot success in 2004, is facing racing corruption charges in England

Group One-winning jockey Eddie Ahern has been found guilty of three breaches of British Horseracing Authority rules following a disciplinary inquiry into alleged corruption.

Ahern, 35, was charged with conspiring to commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice in relation to the laying of five horses between September 2010 and February 2011.

He was also accused of intentionally failing to ensure Judgethemoment was ridden on its merits at Lingfield in January 2011, and of passing information for reward.

Ahern has been found guilty of all charges.

Former West Bromwich Albion football Neil Clement faced charges relating to the five races Ahern rode in and also the laying of Hindu Kush, which he then owned, when that horse finished last of six at Kempton in February 2011.

Clement has been found guilty of conspiring to commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice, of placing a lay bet on a horse which he then owned and of a failure to provide phone records.

A hearing to determine the penalties for both Clement and Ahern will be held this afternoon.The most serious breach against Ahern was his failure to ride Judgethemoment on its merits at Lingfield on January 21, 2011.

 

The Jane Chapple-Hyam trained gelding finished last of seven runners in a two-mile handicap, having been well clear at the halfway stage.

Ahern's counsel, Jonathan Harvie QC, accepted his client had rode "an ill-judged race", but denied he had engaged in a deliberate attempt to destroy Judgethemoment's chances by going off too fast.

Ahern's explanation for the ride was that he misjudged the pace and did not realise he was so far ahead.

A BHA disciplinary panel said it "could not accept that a jockey of Ahern's experience, especially on the all-weather at Lingfield, could have made an error of such an extent".

The BHA said Clement's wagers against Judgethemoment included a spread bet, in which he risked a maximum loss of £41,500 to win what was in the end £8,500.

Clement, who retired from football in January 2010 because of a knee injury, also admitted to having used inside information for betting against Stoneacre Gareth at Lingfield on March 9, 2011.

James Clutterbuck, son and assistant to Stoneacre Gareth's trainer, Ken Clutterbuck, was found guilty of passing on inside information at a separate hearing.

The BHA said Clutterbuck entered a guilty plea on a factual basis, which was accepted.

Clutterbuck's solicitor, Keith Lobo, of London-based St John Legal, said his client will contest the severity of the suspension.

A statement issued by Mr Lobo to Press Association Sport read: "Mr Clutterbuck was heard in advance by the BHA and separately from the other respondents having admitted to an innocent breach of the rules.

"There was no question of Mr Clutterbuck having received any financial reward or having acted dishonestly.

"Upon receipt of the admission and hearing submissions in mitigation, the BHA decision was to disqualify my client for 30 months without any fine being imposed.

"Although we will in due course be making an application for dispensation in any event to enable Mr Clutterbuck to renew work within the industry as soon as possible, following advice and in light of previous authorities he has decided to appeal the decision.

"In my view, keeping in mind that his breach was innocent, that his role was relatively innocuous, his exemplary record and the case authorities referred to, the 30-month period is extremely harsh.

"He stands a good chance of a reduction to that period on appeal. The appeal has been lodged and we are currently waiting for a hearing date."

Former registered owner Michael Turl was charged with conspiring to commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice over Stoneacre Gareth's race and was earlier this month disqualified for two years and fined £10,000.

In-running punters Martin Raymond and Paul Hill were accused of having received inside information as part of the Stoneacre Gareth case but have been cleared of all charges.

Raymond said: "I'm very pleased it is all over, I was surprised it got as far as charges in the first place.

"I'm delighted to have my name cleared. My solicitor Rory Mac Neice has been superb.

"It hasn't come as a great surprise but it's still a huge relief."

Hill said: "I don't know how it got to this stage, but I'm well pleased.

"There was only ever going to be one outcome .

"I knew in December we were going to be cleared - and that's exactly what happened."

Harvie said Ahern is likely to launch an appeal once he learns of his fate this afternoon.

He said: "I think when you learn what the penalty is, it is a pity.

"I'm not in the position that you can go behind the judgement panel but I think (Ahern) will be appealing but I will have to speak to (solicitor) Christopher Stewart-Moore first.

"He won't be riding at Kempton tonight. You have got to put in a note of appeal so Christopher will be doing that tonight or tomorrow morning."

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