Racing: Mercer banned for laying his own horse to lose

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The Independent Online

The owner Darren Mercer intends to appeal against a six-month ban from racing issued by the Jockey Club at a hearing at Portman Square yesterday.

Mercer was charged with laying an ante-post bet on his own horse, Joss Naylor, to lose on the betting exchange Betfair prior to the horse being withdrawn from the Welsh National last December. That contravened the year-old rule which precludes an owner from laying their own horses to lose. He is the second person to be disqualified under the rule after Miles Rodgers, the founder of Platinum Racing, who was banned for two years in April.

After the seven-hour hearing, Mercer said that he had laid the horse to win a total of £410, having placed a "very large" wager on the horse which stood to win him "many, many times" more than he would have won through laying the horse.

His solicitor, David Middleweek, insisted that Mercer had not known that the horse was going to miss the race and added that the gelding's trainer, Jonjo O'Neill, gave evidence to the committee that no decision had been taken over the horse's participation when the bets were placed.