Findlay overturns ban for breaching betting rules

It remains exasperating, not just for Harry Findlay but for the good name of the sport, that an ordeal like this was ever made necessary. Before anyone gets too despondent, however, at least the same independence of outlook that first prompted his extraordinary punishment has now, in turn, provided him with due reprieve.

Findlay yesterday learnt that he had been successful in his appeal against a six-month disqualification for breaching the rules against owners laying bets against their own horses. The British Horseracing Authority's disciplinary panel had originally seemed to take an exceedingly literal view, punishing Findlay severely even though he had simply "hedged" bets already struck about his horse, Gullible Gordon, and remained a substantial net backer. They had decided that his offence warranted a suspension twice as long as that handed to the owner who assaulted Kieren Fallon at Lingfield in March.

But the BHA always stressed that the panel was independent, and no less so the appeals board, chaired by Sir Roger Buckley, which heard Findlay's case on Wednesday and yesterday reduced his punishment to a fine of £4,500. This sum is equivalent to the improvement in his position when laying bets "in running" on Betfair against Gullible Gordon at Chepstow last year.

Findlay, who has found this whole experience a shattering emotional strain, expressed his relief in characteristic fashion. "After two minutes listening to Sir Roger Buckley, I knew I was shorter than 1.01 to get the disqualification overturned," he said. "He was so impressive. He was flanked by two other panellists who, like him, obviously had a thorough knowledge of the case – and this is all I wanted. After undoubtedly the toughest four weeks of my life, I very nearly actually smiled when he spoke of a 'gambler's instinct'. I knew then he understood the case and, in my language, he was simply 'the governor'."

He issued many votes of thanks, including to Paul Barber, the man with whom he forged such an engaging alliance, in the ownership of the top-class Denman, as well as Gullible Gordon. His gratitude did not extend to Paul Nicholls, who trained both horses, and whose yard he has already left during the course of this saga. Denman is now owned outright by Barber, and Big Fella Thanks by Findlay, who has moved him to Ferdy Murphy's care.

Findlay's lawyers, Daryl Cowan and Roderick Moore, also issued a statement. "We are delighted and, frankly, relieved for Harry and for racing," they said. "There was no corruption, no intention to profit at the expense of others, and he was entirely open about what he did. Many members of the public would be surprised to be told what he did was against the rules. A disqualification was plainly wrong, and the appeal board, to their great credit, agreed."

The panel in turn acknowledged: "The lay bets were a relatively small part of an overall back bet and... no one lost unfairly. There was no suggestion that the integrity of the race was in jeopardy. It is clear that Mr Findlay's best financial interests lay in the horse winning." The original panel had failed to make sufficient allowance for those circumstances taking this case "outside the real object of the rule".

The appeals board, while stressing that this case did not offer a blanket precedent for incorporating lay bets into an overall strategy, also emphasised that Findlay had suffered considerably through the indignity of a month's prohibition. During this time, he had been obliged to miss Royal Ascot and the chance to see one of his horses win there.

But the BHA should be absolved of any culpability, according to its director of communications, Paul Struthers. "As this case conclusively highlights, the disciplinary panel and appeal board are independent of the authority and reach their own conclusions based on the evidence and material presented to them," he said. "The authority's role is to set the rules and guideline penalties, then charge and prosecute when necessary. In this case, we maintain it was absolutely right to charge Mr Findlay. He had clearly breached the rules, despite having previously been reminded of them and his responsibilities. The rules must apply equally to everyone. As the appeal board [members] say themselves, 'it is hard to envisage any excuses for its breach in future'."

There would duly be no revision of the rules. "Disciplinary panels have at their disposal flexibility with regards to penalty," Struthers said. "And a vast range for this offence itself: three months to 10 years. They are guidelines, and the panel is fully entitled to go outside those guidelines when they feel justified, as they have done in the past. Consequently, we have no intention of amending this rule in any material way."

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

River Ardeche (9.20 Hamilton) Had slipped down the weights before recent revival at Pontefract, doing especially well after letting the winner control the pace. Stays farther, and should profit from return to more positive tactics.

Next best

Chicane (8.40 Pontefract) Looked ready for extra furlong and stiffer track when finding top gear in the closing stages of her third maiden at Goodwood last month.

One to watch

Layline (R M Beckett) Pulled seven lengths clear of the rest when just run out of things at Lingfield on Wednesday.

Where the money's going

Hawkeyethenoo is now joint-favourite at 8-1 from 10-1 for the Blue Square Stewards' Cup with Totesport.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk