RACING: Riders still face Jockey Club scrutiny

Click to follow
The Independent Online
WHEN RAY COCHRANE and Dean Gallagher walked out of Charing Cross police station on Wednesday they were flashing the smiles of men with nothing more to worry about. While they have now been ruled out of the criminal investigation into possible race-fixing, however, their problems may not yet be fully behind them. The Jockey Club confirmed yesterday that it may yet take action against the two jockeys, although there is little indication of what that action might be, or when it might be taken.

The Club does not have the powers of arrest and seizure of evidence which the police could employ during their investigation, which resulted in five men being charged on Wednesday in connection with the doping of two horses in March 1997. However, the Jockey Club has the authority to impose significant penalties on individuals as it sees fit, up to and including the withdrawal of a jockey's licence.

"We will be reviewing all the information available before deciding what regulatory action on our part is appropriate," John Maxse, the Club's spokesman, said yesterday. "I can't put a date on the decision, there are a few hurdles to cross yet, and it is a matter of what, how and when."

The "when" will almost certainly be after the trial of the five men who were charged with conspiracy to defraud by "interfering with the fair running of horseracing by administering a performance-inhibiting drug". They are due to make their first appearance in court in front of Bow Street magistrates on 14 April, a day after Graham Bradley, the only jockey who has not been ruled out of the inquiry, reports to Charing Cross to answer his bail. It may be many months, however, before the outcome of the trial is known.

A less dramatic course of action than the immediate suspension or removal of a riders' licence would be a "quiet word" under the Warnings Protocol, which was introduced in 1996. Under the Protocol, licensed individuals who are believed to be associating with known criminals or others deemed to be "undesirables" receive a private warning as to their future conduct. If that caution is ignored, they may then be required to attend the Licensing Committee, which decides whether trainers and jockeys are "fit and proper" people to hold a licence.

"The Jockey Club have been saying that they might take action for some time," Michael Caulfield, the secretary of the Jockeys' Association, said yesterday. "But that's for another day. Wednesday was the first stage out of the way, and it was a huge relief for the jockeys involved. We did fairly well and now there's just one more [Bradley] to go. Now we will have to see how things develop."

Speaking to the Racing Channel at Towcester yesterday, Dean Gallagher said that "it hasn't been easy and I wouldn't have wished it on anybody, but it's behind me now and hopefully I'll just be able to get on with my life. I'm lucky enough to be able to manage to get through it and now I'll just have to ride more winners".

Next month's criminal proceedings on charges related to doping will be almost without precedent. Horses have been doped or nobbled at infrequent but fairly regular intervals throughout racing history, but these cases have rarely resulted in charges being brought.

One of the few exceptions occurred in 1811, when Daniel Dawson, a stable lad in Newmarket, was found guilty of fatally poisoning three of the horses in his care by pouring arsenic into their water trough. Dawson claimed that he had been paid by bookmakers who had laid substantial bets about the horses, but that he had intended only to incapacitate them. His pleas were ignored, however, and Dawson was later hanged on Newmarket Heath in front of 15,000 people.

More recently, Pinturischio, the ante-post favourite for the 1961 Derby, was got at twice in the weeks before the Classic. So toxic was the dope used by the nobblers that afterwards Pinturischio could hardly stand up. There are other cases, meanwhile, which remained highly suspicious rather than proven. Gorytus, the favourite for the 1983 Dewhurst Stakes, finished last of four, and is widely believed to have been "got at", even though his post-race sample showed no trace of dope. In neither instance, however, were any charges brought against those responsible.