'Despicable' Murphy fined £9,500

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The Independent Online

Ferdy Murphy has hit back at the British Horseracing Authority after being punished with a £9,500 fine. The BHA panel found that the Murphy-trained mare Mansonn Leda was ridden "so as to ensure a favourable handicapping mark" in a race at Catterick last month. The panel's findings referred to Murphy's instructions to the conditional jockey on board, Ewan Whillans, as "despicable".

In turn, Murphy described the disciplinary panel as "headless chickens". The Middleham trainer added: "The rider made a mistake and I pointed that out to the stewards at Catterick. There was no mention of the filly not running on her merits and when a panel down in London find something an experienced panel in the North couldn't find, that is what is wrong with racing. I've called them headless chickens before and that's exactly what they are."

Mansonn Leda finished fifth in a novices' hurdle at Catterick and the panel in London decided Whillans had pretended to make an effort in order to avoid the stewards' attentions. They concluded that the whip was used so as to give the appearance of hitting the mare and that a recording showed the stick stopping short. Whillans was banned for 42 days and the horse suspended from running for 40 days.

However, the panel acknowledged that Whillans found himself in a difficult situation in being "a conditional jockey who was instructed by his employer to ride in this manner".

They took a dimmer view of Murphy's conduct. They increased his fine from the minimum £7,500 after concluding that the "instruction of a conditional jockey who was employed by him was a despicable act which was further compounded by Murphy distancing himself from the ride before the stewards", something that "does racing no credit".