Racing: `Ringers' Through The Ages

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The Independent Online

The colt who passed the post first in the 1844 Derby, under the name Running Rein, turned out to be a four-year-old called Maccabaeus. The substitution was made by Goodman Levy, a gambler, when the real Running Rein was a foal; when the horse of that name first appeared at Newmarket as a two-year-old and, backed from 10-1 to 3-1, won easily, the racing world looked askance. The bets were paid under protest, but the inquiry launched by one of the Turf's first reformers, Lord George Bentinck, collapsed when the groom who foaled Running Rein positively identified Maccabaeus as he. The emboldened Levy ran his horse in the Derby the following year but, after his three-quarters of a length victory from Orlando, the storm broke and the villains, who had stood to win pounds 50,000, fled the country. There was also suspicion over another runner, Leander. He broke a leg in the race and was destroyed, and examination of his jaw revealed he, too, was four. His owners, a pair of German brothers, were barred from racing for life but their parting shot was that the English were liars, for the horse was not four, but six.


Both frauds were perpetrated by Peter Barrie, a former Australian Light Horse trooper. Jazz, a brown three-year-old, ran in place of Coat Of Mail, a bay two-year-old, in the Faceby Plate at Stockton. Barrie got away with it on the day because the racecard gave no details of colour of the horses, and a snowstorm enabled Jazz to be kept in rugs until the last minute. Backed from 20-1 to 5-2 in a field of eight, he won hard held. Shining More, a white-faced bay mare, was a smart hurdler. Barrie dyed her dark brown and entered her in a seller at Cheltenham under the name Silver Badge. She won by six lengths and netted winnings of pounds 7,000 for those in the know. But suspicions were rife and charges eventually brought. At the Old Bailey in October 1920, Barrie was sentenced to three years hard labour.


When a big grey gelding won a five furlongs two-year-old race at Leicester in March by 20 lengths after being heavily backed, stewards ordered an inquiry and bookies were advised not to pay out. The winner, named on the racecard as Flockton Grey, turned out to be a three-year-old called Good Hand. The scam was confirmed by a photo of the horse taken in the winners' enclosure with his mouth open. The teeth visible were not those of a juvenile. The swindle was masterminded by Ken Richardson, one of three men convicted of conspiracy to defraud in June 1984. Richardson received a suspended jail sentence, a fine and in 1986 was warned off for 25 years by the Jockey Club. Sue Montgomery