Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Ban on owner Findlay overturned

it remains exasperating, not just for Harry Findlay but for the good name of the sport, that an ordeal like this was ever necessary.

Before anyone gets too despondent, at least the same independence of outlook that first prompted his punishment has now provided him with reprieve.

Findlay yesterday learned that he had been successful in his appeal against a six-month disqualification for breaching the rules against owners laying bets against their own horses.

The British Horseracing Authority's disciplinary panel had originally seemed to take an exceedingly literal view, punishing Findlay even though he had simply “hedged” bets already struck on his horse, Gullible Gordon.

They had decided that this warranted a suspension twice as long as that handed to the owner who assaulted Kieren Fallon at Lingfield in March.

But the BHA always stressed that the panel was independent, and no less so the appeals board, chaired by Sir Roger Buckley, who heard Findlay's case on Wednesday, and yesterday reduced his punishment to a fine of £4,500.

Findlay said: “After two minutes listening to Sir Roger Buckley, I knew I was shorter than 1.01 to get the disqualification overturned. He was so impressive. He was flanked by two other panellists who, like him, obviously had a thorough knowledge of the case. This is all I wanted.“

The panel acknowledged: “There was no suggestion that the integrity of the race was in jeopardy.”

The appeals board, while stressing that this case did not offer a blanket precedent for incorporating lay bets into an overall strategy, also emphasised that Findlay had already suffered considerably.

But the BHA director of communications, Paul Struthers, said: “He had clearly breached the rules, despite having previously been reminded of them and his responsibilities. As the Appeal Board [members] say themselves, 'it is hard to envisage any excuses for its breach in future'.”

There will duly be no revision of the rules.

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