Eddie Ahern given 10-year betting plot ban

British Horseracing Authority find 35-year-old guilty of conspiring to commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice

This is fast becoming an annus horribilis for the British racing community. Already consumed by scandals over steroids and cocaine, it was obliged to confront iniquities that seemed no less distressing for being more familiar. For the career of one of its most felicitous talents, Eddie Ahern, appears to lie in ruins after he became arguably the most prominent rider to be found guilty of corruption since Graham Bradley and was banned from racing for 10 years. His counsel was quick to indicate an intention to appeal.

Had life taken a different twist, Ahern might well have ended up riding Frankel. As it was, Sir Henry Cecil instead promoted another of his regular work riders, Tom Queally, as stable jockey. In terms of pure talent, however, Ahern would have been a thoroughly eligible partner for the great horse.

Such is the heartbreaking measure of the Irishman's downfall, after an independent disciplinary panel upheld a series of grave charges by the British Horseracing Authority. The most serious was that Ahern – in collusion with Neil Clement, a West Bromwich Albion defender forced into retirement by injury in 2010 – had employed tactics calculated to ensure that a mount ran down the field. If a gambling plot with an unscrupulous footballer might seem tawdrily familiar, from previous cases, it is unprecedented for a jockey to be found guilty of setting a wildly extravagant pace in the interest of lay bets against his mount, not on a betting exchange, but on a spread-betting index. (Such wagers offer a sliding scale of profit or loss, according to finishing position.)

Judgethemoment seemed in palpable decline when tried in blinkers at Lingfield on 21 January 2011. He started at 12-1 and again finished last. The trade newspaper, Racing Post, recorded: "Soon spreadeagled field, came back from halfway, headed and weakened rapidly over 4f out."

Ahern conceded that he had given Judgethemoment a "terrible" ride, misjudging the pace and failing to grasp he was so far ahead, but the panel "could not accept that a jockey of [his] experience, especially on the all-weather at Lingfield" could have made such an error. Contrasting Clement's regular wagers with one against Judgethemoment that risked a loss of £41,500, ultimately to win £8,500, the panel concluded that the betting and riding tactics could not be "innocent [or] unconnected".

By no means for the first time, in similar cases, the panel felt able to infer – without tangible evidence – that it was "inconceivable" that Ahern was not riding for reward. This habit continues to cause unease among those who would anticipate an exacting standard of proof, when someone's livelihood is at stake. Regardless, it is a terribly sad business. At 35, Ahern is in his prime. As a rider, he has always had terrific flair. Likeable as he is, however, he has never seemed to have had a sufficiently steely sense of how to make the most of his gifts.

In concluding that he had finally squandered his talent, the panel also found Ahern guilty of conspiring to commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice in relation to the laying of five horses between September 2010 and February 2011. Clement, meanwhile, was additionally found to have laid Hindu Kush, a horse he then owned, and to have used inside information to oppose Stoneacre Gareth at Lingfield in March 2011. That horse was ridden by Adam Kirby, who was never implicated, but James Clutterbuck, his trainer's son and assistant, was found guilty at a separate hearing of passing information. Clutterbuck, banned for two and a half years, will also contest his punishment. Clement was disqualified for 15 years and three months, and fined £3,000. Two punters facing associated charges were both absolved of any malpractice.

Seldom can the sport have craved the sort of succour that might be available in an Investec Derby success for a syndicate including Sir Alex Ferguson. The former Manchester United manager spent one of the first days of his retirement at Lingfield to witness a crucial gallop by Telescope, who missed his intended trial after a setback. Bookmakers were unimpressed, however, and Coral eased him to 8-1 from 7-1 for Saturday week.

Whether Frankie Dettori can process the return of his licence in time for Epsom remains to be seen. The BHA could only reiterate that the "issue sits with the medical committee" of France Galop, and that detail remains confidential between that panel and Dettori.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Squeeze My Brain (8.40 Sandown) Was always going to make a better three-year-old, so encouraging that she lay such solid foundations in qualifying for a rating.

Next best

Gravitational (4.40 Haydock) Shaped well on his first start for Chris Wall, emerging from traffic to chase home a flourishing rival.

Where the money's going

Dawn Approach is odds-on with Coral for the Investec Derby, now 5-6 from evens.

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio talks during the press conference for the film
films

Film follows park rangers in the Congo

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
Sport
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Group: English as an Additional Langua...

Nursery assistants required in Cambridgeshire

£10000 - £15000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

History Teacher

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Seconda...

** Female PE Teacher Urgently Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album