Racing in crisis: Sheer disbelief pervades weighing room and betting ring

In the absence of the three jockeys arrested on Tuesday at Lingfield yesterday, weighing room colleagues, bookmakers and owners were quick to spring to their defence.

As Richard Edmondson discovered, the consensus view was: "you're innocent until proved guilty."

If racing's three jockeys under race-fixing suspicion had wanted to be among supportive friends they should have travelled to Lingfield yesterday.

The card at the Surrey track was typical of the bland filler that occupies much of the winter midweek. There were no Cheltenham winners here and no casual punters, the breed most susceptible to theories of grand conspiracy.

Instead it was the continuation of the minor skirmishes between backing diehards and cold bookmakers. And neither of those groups wants to think their sport is tainted by dirty jockeys and dirty practice.

The womb for riders - the weighing room - was a quieter chamber than usual as friends and workmates of the three in question contemplated the revelations of the previous day. The mood was largely of stupefaction. "We're absolutely shattered just to be thinking that any of our weighing room colleagues could be in any way involved," Mick Fitzgerald, the Grand National-winning jockey, said. "These are boys we see every single day and I can't see that one of our own would be involved in this.

"The atmosphere in the weighing room is completely different from normal. Yesterday when we first heard we didn't know what to think, but now it's settled down and we've had time to take it all in the reaction is shock.

"We just hope that it is all going to wash out. It's all pretty unbelievable and we certainly don't believe it for one minute."

Another Grand National winner, Carl Llewellyn, also refused to contemplate that there could be renegades changing next to him. "We have had a day to think about it and the more we do the more ridiculous it appears," he said. "You can't really fix jump races. There are too many things involved. In fact it would be nigh impossible.

"We are sure the three will be completely exonerated in the end. In all my time in racing I have never come across anything that is as dicey as this is being made out. We feel it has been a big mistake."

There was not complete confidence in the ring either that the Metropolitan Police understood the machinations of the turf. "You could write on the back of a postage stamp with a blow lamp what the police know about racing," Barry Dennis, a leading bookmaker at Lingfield, said.

The languages that drive the ring are tic-tac and money, and it is the absence of any big winners from the races concerning the doped horses that puzzles the satchel-carriers. "The thought of people having a coup at small meetings like that is impossible," Dennis said. "With our underground we would have smelled something and the alarm bells would have gone off.

"People in the betting shop want to believe this happens. They think a race a day is a jockeys' race or a crooked race. This will just confirm their belief that skulduggery goes on in horseracing. This won't stop those people punting because they think it goes on already. The regulars will just carry on regardless."

There was no obvious firestorm of punter protest on course yesterday. Indeed, it was a relatively good day for turnover in the ring and the crowd was up on the corresponding meeting last year.

The betting in racing, though, is that the jockeys involved will be condemned only if they stand up and shout their sins through a megaphone. Dean Gallagher should have been riding Repeat Offer in the bumper here yesterday, but in his absence there was undiluted support from the gelding's owner, Dennis Brick. "Dean could have ridden the horse but we think he's gone to Portman Square instead," he said. "We would certainly have no qualms about putting him up. You're innocent until proved guilty."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...