Racing: Phone records lead to Jockey Club inquiry

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The Independent Online

A well-known jump jockey is to face a disciplinary inquiry after an examination of telephone records, the Jockey Club said last night. The rider was named as Mattie Batchelor, a regular on tracks in the south of England.

The Jockey Club also confirmed that Marcus Foley - who rides for the powerful Nicky Henderson stable - has been cleared of any wrongdoing over the running and riding of Tollbrae at Leicester 11 months ago.

The race at Leicester in February last year was the subject of a Jockey Club investigation after Tollbrae, the even-money favourite, came from a long way back to finish second to Venn Ottery in a 12-runner maiden chase.

Explaining the situation, John Maxse, the Jockey Club's director of public relations, said: "There are two sides to this. On the one side there is Marcus Foley, who has been spoken to this week by our officials just to let him know that he is no longer involved in our inquiries.

"But Mattie Batchelor is, and we have written to him and told him he is required to attend a disciplinary panel inquiry, which I hope will be held within the next six to eight weeks, where it is alleged that he deliberately misled or sought to mislead the Jockey Club officials conducting the investigation. Both these matters arise from the Tollbrae race at Leicester."

Maxse continued: "We initiated our investigation into the race due to the unusual betting patterns and concerns which were expressed to us about the running of the race.

"As part of our investigation we requested the phone records of Tollbrae's jockey, Marcus Foley, and an analysis of those records led us to question Mattie Batchelor.

"We have informed Marcus Foley that we are satisfied that there was no running and riding breach and he is not required to attend any further disciplinary inquiry."

Foley said: "The process has taken a long time but I was happy to co-operate fully at every stage and remained confident that the Jockey Club would find that I was not involved in any wrongdoing." Batchelor was not available for comment last night.

Martin Pipe, the champion trainer, confirmed yesterday that multiple winner Marcel will run in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown Park on Saturday. Pipe's charge is also entered in the Ladbroke Handicap Hurdle on the same card - but will bypass that race despite the fact it carries double the prize money.

Marcel is an eight-time winner already this season and is vying for favouritism at around 12-1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March with Wild Passion, who is also an intended runner in the Tolworth.

However, Irish trainer Noel Meade is hoping that stormy weather does not disrupt his plans to run Wild Passion. The Royal Bond Hurdle winner pleased connections in a workout yesterday morning and, having scoped clean, has been given the all-clear to go for the Tolworth.

But Meade warned last night that rough seas were causing a problem: "If we can get him over there, he will run. We are waiting for confirmation from the shipping agent whether we would be able to get out tonight. If we are not able to go out tonight, I'm not sure he'll travel, though I suppose we might give it a shot in the morning. But that would be it, because if he didn't get on a boat tomorrow it would be too late."

Meade added: "I think the Sandown hill would suit him well and he should handle the ground all right."