Sunday 18 February 2018

Lambe may face more Turf Club questions

Trainer James Lambe and Jockey Eddie O'Connell
Trainer James Lambe and Jockey Eddie O'Connell
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Armagh-based handler James Lambe could face a further Turf Club inquiry after the regulator's findings in the Yachvili affair revealed that it "was dissatisfied with the accuracy and truthfulness" of statements made by him during the investigation.

Lambe was exonerated of any role in the case that resulted in jockey Eddie O'Connell being handed a four-year ban for conspiring to prevent Yachvili from running on its merits at Downpatrick in 2011.

Yachvili's owner Robert Martin has been handed a 10-year ban and ordered to pay costs of €10,000, while British-based duo Brian Keown and Lucy Stanton have been disqualified for eight years and four years, respectively.

Martin, Keown and Stanton did not contest the charges against them, nor did they appear at any of the Turf Club hearings.

Yesterday's Referral Committee report stated that O'Connell, who has formally lodged an appeal against his ban, took advantage of an incident at the first fence when Yachvili was hampered "by subsequently failing to take all reasonable and necessary steps to attempt to put the gelding back into the race".

It concluded that he had agreed with Martin on the day of the race that Yachvili would not run on its merits, information that Martin then relayed to his acquaintance Keown, who in turn used the Betfair account of Stanton to place a lay bet of £10,000 that Yachvili would not be placed.

ACTIVITY

The fact that Stanton's only previous Betfair activity on Irish racing was a lay bet of £45 to win £5 highlighted the disproportionate nature of the transaction.

The report outlined how audio recordings of phone calls that Stanton had made to Betfair operatives on the day "displayed an extraordinary determination to wager as much money as was available to her against the event of Yachvili being placed at Downpatrick," a "determination matched by a clear lack of understanding of the mechanics of lay betting".

Lambe learned in February that he had been exonerated of all charges in relation to the corruption inquiry, but the committee resolved that "it could not deal with any further possible Rule breaches arising from the evidence given by Mr Lambe and that it was up to the Turf Club to decide what further charges, if any, should be brought against him in relation to his evidence or otherwise, and that if such charges were brought it was more appropriate that they be dealt with by another committee".

This revolves chiefly around the report's finding that Lambe changed his story, in that his "immediate and spontaneous reactions after the race" "contrasted radically" with his subsequent submissions.

Brendan Sheridan, clerk of the course on the day at Downpatrick, made a written statement revealing that Lambe had approached him after the race.

"He was very angry about the ride his horse Yachvili had been given in the race and described it as the worst ride he had ever seen," Sheridan stated.

Lambe subsequently argued "that his initial comments were based on what he observed on the day," but the report concluded that, had he not "changed his story ... he would have been wholly supportive of the Turf Club case and that it was his change of position that brought him before the committee".

It also found that phone "records relating to Mr Lambe undermined the accuracy of his evidence to the Committee" in relation to his post-race communication with Martin.

In April, Lambe and O'Connell failed in a High Court challenge to the Turf Club's authority to enforce the rules of racing, but have appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.

Irish Independent

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