Racing: Winston must 'answer' HRA inquiry

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The Independent Online

The leading jockey Robert Winston has been told he has "a case to answer" in relation to corruption charges brought against him by the Horseracing Regulatory Authority. The jockey had hoped to be excused from the main inquiry in January following a two-day preliminary hearing by the HRA's disciplinary panel this week.

However, Winston was informed yesterday that he will face charges at the main hearing, which is due to start on 10 January and is expected to last 10 days. He will be joined by fellow jockeys Robbie Fitzpatrick, Fran Ferris and the former rider Luke Fletcher, as well as five account holders with the leading betting exchange Betfair.

The charges relate to a security department investigation centred on 37 races between 16 June, 2003 and 29 February, 2004. In Winston's case, charges relate to 21 horses he rode over a seven-month period up to early January 2004.

Christopher Stewart-Moore representing Winston's legal team, said: "Robert is extremely disappointed by the ruling that he has a case to answer.

"He had hopes, at the very least, for a ruling that a substantial part of the HRA's wide-ranging and extremely circumstantial evidence was not admissible. There are aspects of the judgement which he will undoubtedly appeal.

"The panel admit in their judgement that they had some difficulty in understanding the case that was put to them by Robert Winston's counsel, Andrew Monson. This much was clear from their reasons. It had been hoped that the [main] hearing, which had been set down for 10-15 days, would be substantially truncated by the panel exercising their discretion in removing a great deal of what can only be described as extremely circumstantial evidence. They have chosen not to do so. As a consequence, there will now be a full and very costly hearing, which the defendants will vigorously defend."

In a separate case, four jockeys, a trainer, one disqualified former owner and six unlicensed individuals were yesterday informed by the HRA that they face charges in relation to 40 races run between September 2004 and March 2005. Shane Kelly, Josh Byrne, David Nolan and the now unlicensed Fran Ferris are the riders charged, along with trainer Phil McEntee.

Ajaz Khan, charged in relation to all the races, was registered as a disqualified person with effect from July this year after he failed to supply telephone records in compliance with a production order issued by the HRA security department.

The charges include allegedly communicating to Khan, for material reward, information that was not publicly available or provided for under rules governing "inside information", and also aiding and abetting the commission of a corrupt practice, the laying of the horses by Khan.