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Richie McGrath cleared of corruption by British Horseracing Authority following hearing

By Martin Kelly

Scottish Grand National-winning jockey Richie McGrath will attempt to rebuild his career after being cleared by the British Horseracing Authority of all corruption charges following a disciplinary panel hearing.

Paul Struthers, chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, is confident McGrath can get back to the top of the sport.

"We are delighted that Richie McGrath has been found not guilty of all the charges he faced, with a minor exception for which there should hopefully be no penalty," he said.

"We would like to thank Robin Leach, Richie's barrister, and Jim McGrath, who provided expert evidence on all of the races, for the significant time and effort they put in.

"We would also like to thank the disciplinary panel for their diligence and fair handling of the case.

"Even though Richie has maintained his innocence throughout and was always hopeful of this outcome, it has still been an incredibly stressful and difficult time for Richie and his family and he can now start to rebuild his career, injury permitting," he added, referring to a back injury suffered by the jockey last year.

"The PJA has concerns about the BHA's handling of the case but today is about Richie being exonerated, and we will therefore raise those concerns directly and privately with the BHA.

"Finally, as Richie has been exonerated, the PJA board will consider his immediate reinstatement (as a board member) at its next meeting in June."

McGrath faced allegations he passed on inside information used for betting purposes and that he had not ridden his mounts on their merits.

The British Horseracing Authority investigation covered 57 races between October 2009 and April 2012.

McGrath and former owner Mark Aspey went before a BHA disciplinary panel in March, but they have both now been cleared of all corruption charges.

The jockey has instead been found in breach of a far lesser offence, that of giving a horse "a schooling run" aboard Rumble Of Thunder at Fakenham on January 1, 2011.

Schooling a horse in public carries an entry point penalty of a 14-day suspension, with a range of between 10 to 18 days, whereas McGrath could have been banned for 10 years if he had been found guilty of corruption.

A BHA statement said full reasons for the panel's findings will be published "in a few days" and that it will "consider submissions as to how penalties - if appropriate - will be dealt with".

Seven people were named when the BHA charges were revealed last September, including former trainer Kate Walton.

The charges against Walton and four other unlicensed individuals were, however, dropped a week before they were due to face a disciplinary inquiry.

McGrath has not ridden in public since he suffered a back fracture in a fall at Hexham in March 2014.

The jockey won the Scottish Grand National at Ayr in 2003 on board Ryalux.

Belfast Telegraph


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