Racing: Vets drawn into Club's exchange net

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The Independent Online

Veterinary surgeons, farriers and even equine dentists have been rounded up by the Jockey Club into the same corral as other racing professionals who might seek to exploit inside knowledge to make money on betting exchanges.

Veterinary surgeons, farriers and even equine dentists have been rounded up by the Jockey Club into the same corral as other racing professionals who might seek to exploit inside knowledge to make money on betting exchanges.

In an attempt to close every loophole that might allow insiders to further blacken the turf's name the Club has expanded the rule which until now has prohibited owners, trainers and stable employees from laying horses in their ownership or care to lose.

Starting on 1 December, the rule will be extended to those who provide a service to a trainer. It would be a breach of the rule for such individuals to lay any horse under the care of the relevant trainer within 21 days of the provision of the service.

Under the current rule, introduced in September 2003, owners, trainers and stable employees found in breach face a penalty of disqualification ranging from three months to 10 years, depending on the circumstances and gravity of the offence. The same length of ban would apply under the expanded rule, although individuals facing a charge may well not be licensed or registered and therefore would not be bound by the Rules of Racing. In such instances they would be recommended to be excluded from licensed premises for a similar period of time.

Paul Scotney, the Jockey Club's director of security, said: "The amendment is a logical progression to what we introduced last year and is designed to extend the rule to include those who, although unlicensed, come into close proximity with horses ready to run.

"The expansion of the rule is intended to act as a further deterrent to the misuse of privileged information."

Following the conclusion of the Hillside Girl disciplinary hearing in September, the Jockey Club intends to proceed with charges of fraudulent practice against Stephen O'Sullivan, the farrier at the stable of Hillside Girl's trainer, Alan Berry.

On a more positive point of betting, Made In Japan proved the highlight of a 15-1 treble for the Philip Hobbs stable at Kempton yesterday as he ran out an impressive winner on his chasing debut. The gelding is a 16-1 chance for the Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival.

Sent off an uneasy 4-5 favourite as racecourse rumours suggested all had not gone to plan in his schooling sessions, Made In Japan could scarcely have done the job any better once the race got under way.

"He had schooled very well at home and I'm just happy that he was as natural on the racecourse," Sarah Hobbs, wife of the trainer, said. "First time over fences you never really know and I was getting seriously nervous. Now I know what Nigel [Twiston-Davies] was going through when Fundamentalist ran at Cheltenham at the weekend."

Arkle Chase (Cheltenham, 15 March 2005) Ladbrokes: 12-1 Cloone River, Royal Alphabet, 16-1 (from 25-1) Made In Japan, Sporazene, War Of Attrition, Watson Lake, 20-1 others.

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