Racing: Osborne: `It's over at last'

JAMIE OSBORNE, who was arrested almost a year ago along with two other jockeys in connection with alleged race fixing, said yesterday that the Crown Prosecution Service has now cleared him of any involvement. Speaking at Warwick races, Osborne said that his lawyer had received a letter from Detective Inspector Gary Southgate, the head of the Organised Crime Squad, informing him of the news.

"I am absolutely delighted," he said. "I am pleased that it is all over, but as I have said before, I am disappointed at the length of time that the whole inquiry has taken. But now it is over, it is all in the past.'' Osborne has spent most of the last 12 months recovering from a serious wrist injury, and returned to race-riding only on 31 October, when he won the John Durkan Leukaemia Trust Handicap Chase at Ascot on Coome Hill.

"I always knew that this day would come," he added. "But it has been a long time coming, and I just want to get on with riding from now on.'' Osborne was arrested on 27 January by the Metropolitan Police, along with his fellow jockeys Dean Gallagher and Leighton Aspell. They were released on police bail and not charged. Both Aspell and Osborne have now been released from their bail without charge. Gallagher has been bailed to return to Charing Cross Police Station early in the new year.

In the latest development in a separate inquiry, Neal Wilkins, a starting- price reporter with the Press Assocation, reported to the same police station yesterday to answer bail following his arrest on 27 July on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud. Wilkins, a familiar figure in Britain's betting rings until he was suspended on full pay following his arrest, was interviewed for several hours before being bailed to return on 28 January.

Coome Hill, meanwhile, is on course for the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on Saturday week after pleasing his trainer, Walter Dennis, in an exercise canter yesterday. "God willing he is on course and Jamie will ride him again," Dennis said. "If Suny Bay comes out, the weights will go up, but he is a big horse, and it is the same for everyone.''

Dennis and fellow trainers will not find out whether Suny Bay, last year's winner, will line up against them for a few days at least. The grey was an impressive winner on his seasonal debut two days ago in the Edward Hanmer Chase. But Simon Sherwood, his trainer, has yet to decide whether a trip to Newbury would come too quickly, particularly since a penalty for that win takes his weight to 12st 4lb. Arkle himself is the only chaser to have carried more than 12 stone to victory in the race's 40-year history. "He has earned the weight but it will be a tall order in handicaps from now on,'' Sherwood said yesterday.

FIRST SHOW

ASCOT 3.40

C H L S T

Aerion 6-4 11-8 11-8 6-4 11-8

Papua 5-2 3-1 3-1 5-2 5-2

Effectual 7-2 4-1 7-2 4-1 4-1

Mister Rm 8-1 15-2 7-1 7-1 15-2

Neat Feat 9-1 7-1 8-1 8-1 9-1

Real Estate 16-1 16-1 20-1 20-1 20-1

Each way, a quarter the odds, places 1, 2

C Coral, H William Hill, L Ladbrokes, S Stanley, T Tote

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