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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie