Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Ahern loses ban appeal

Eddie Ahern

Group One-winning jockey Eddie Ahern has failed in his appeal against a 10-year disqualification from riding.

Following the conclusion of a British Horseracing Authority corruption hearing at the end of May, Ahern, 35, was found guilty of conspiring to commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice in relation to the laying of five horses between September 2010 and February 2011.

More significantly, he was also found in breach of intentionally failing to ensure Judgethemoment was ridden on its merits at Lingfield in January 2011, and of passing information for reward.

The most serious breach against Ahern was his failure to ride Judgethemoment on its merits. 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 explanation for the ride was that he misjudged the pace and did not realise he was so far ahead.

The 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".

Ahern appealed on the basis that the disciplinary panel's reasons were insufficient to support their initial decision and there was insufficient evidence to support some of their findings. He also contested that the punishment was "disproportionate to the conduct found to have occurred such that no reasonable panel would have imposed them".

Both claims were dismissed and the panel directed that any issues related to costs be deferred to a later date.

County Tipperary-born Ahern was a former champion apprentice in Ireland in 1997, with his first major winner in Britain coming the following year when the Michael Grassick-trained San Sebastian claimed the Ascot Stakes at Royal Ascot.

In recent years he has been used by a number of top trainers, including Sir Henry Cecil, for whom he won the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2009 on the Khalid Abdullah-owned Father Time. Ahern also won the Musidora Stakes at York in 2010 on Aviate for Cecil and Abdullah.

He gained Group One glory in 2011 when dead-heating on John Gosden's Duncan in the Irish St Leger, a second top-level success after Grassick's Preseli won the 1999 Moyglare Stud Stakes. Ahern struck up a fruitful partnership with Donald McCain's Overturn, winning the Northumberland Plate in 2010 and going on to lift the Chester Cup the following year.

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