Racing: Berry corruption case starts at Jockey Club

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The Independent Online

Proceedings began at the Portman Square headquarters of the Jockey Club in London yesterday at a hearing concerning the running of the Alan Berry-trained two-year-old Hillside Girl at Carlisle last June. Berry, jockey Paul Bradley, blacksmith Steve O'Sullivan and amateur rider Dale Jewett arrived at the Jockey Club to answer to various charges before the disciplinary panel.

Proceedings began at the Portman Square headquarters of the Jockey Club in London yesterday at a hearing concerning the running of the Alan Berry-trained two-year-old Hillside Girl at Carlisle last June. Berry, jockey Paul Bradley, blacksmith Steve O'Sullivan and amateur rider Dale Jewett arrived at the Jockey Club to answer to various charges before the disciplinary panel.

Three days have been set aside for the hearing and the opening day continued into the evening as both legal teams sought to make as much progress as possible.

John Maxse, public relations director at the Jockey Club, said: "We have a large number of witnesses at Portman Square waiting to give evidence and we are hoping that as many of them can be seen as possible in order to prevent them having to return tomorrow or later."

In the race, the Fathers Day Novice Auction Stakes on June 15 last year, Hillside Girl drifted markedly in the betting before being pulled up before halfway by Bradley.

The panel will consider whether Berry, Bradley and O'Sullivan are "guilty of or conspired with each other for the commission of a corrupt or fraudulent practice in relation to racing, namely ensuring that Hillside Girl, a filly known or suspected of being lame in its left-fore and therefore of having little chance of winning or being placed, should run at Carlisle on 15 June, 2003, in the interests of bets laid on the exchange markets".

Berry and Bradley are accused of misleading stewards investigating the case by providing inaccurate information.

O'Sullivan, a known punter on betting exchanges, and Jewett are both charged with having "hindered or obstructed" a Jockey Club investigating officer. The panel will look into a charge that Jewett, an amateur rider working at Berry's yard at the time, was guilty of a corrupt or fraudulent practice in that he used information that Hillside Girl was or was suspected of being lame in the interests of bets laid by him on the betting exchange markets.

However, potentially the most serious charge is that levelled against Berry in that he "failed to train with reasonable care and skill and with due regard to the safety of the horses in his charge by allowing the filly to go untreated, and by allowing her to run when he knew or should have known that she was unfit".

Berry, who has made it clear that he will vigorously contest all charges, arrived at Portman Square yesterday morning more than two hours before the hearing.

He is legally represented by barrister Richard Liddel, with Bradley represented by Robin Leach, a barrister, and O'Sullivan by solicitor Richard Brooks. Jewett chose not to be legally represented.

The Jockey Club's case is being presented by barrister Anna Coppola, assisted by Jacob Dean.

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