McKeown banned after bets inquiry

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The Independent Online

A corruption inquiry which involved investigators studying betting and telephone records ended yesterday with a four-year ban for the veteran jockey Dean McKeown and a two-and-a-half-year ban for the trainer Paul Blockley.

The bans make them "disqualified persons" – unable to enter any racecourse or licensed stables, or even talk to licensed persons about racing.

The 48-year-old jockey and Lambourn-based Blockley were found guilty on two charges following the British Horseracing Authority inquiry. They were found to have conspired with others to commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice.

The main allegation was that the pair, and seven others, were involved in a conspiracy to exploit inside information about Blockley's runners in 11 races between June 2004 and December 2005. All the horses were successfully layed to lose on the Betfair betting exchange. The bets in question risked a total of £182,541, but because every bet was a "winner", the overall profit was £61,909. The names of two of the horses were Only If I Laugh and Hits Only Money.

Asked for his reaction on leaving the hearing, Blockley said he "needed time". McKeown, speaking to the At The Races television channel last night, said: "I'm devastated to be honest. Four years with no evidence to prove against me is amazing. All the races are going to be shown on ATR and I hope viewers see them as they are, that there is no evidence of any wrong-doing in any of the rides."

The other seven charged were alleged to be involved in placing bets that horses would lose, knowing that the trainer, and jockey in eight of the 11 races, did not expect or even intend the horses to win. Owner Clive Whiting, fellow owner Derek Lovatt and Martyn Wakefield, along with Whiting's brother Vincent, former owner Marcus Reeder, David Wright and Nicholas Rook were all found guilty of breaching rules by the BHA disciplinary panel.

Clive Whiting was disqualified for eight years, Vincent Whiting for four years, Wright and Rook for six years, Reeder and Wakefield for 18 months. Lovatt was fined £20,000. Eight of the nine men charged have firmly rejected the allegations. Rook, the BHA says, did not suggest a defence. All can appeal against the panel's verdicts.

Two weeks ago it was reported that official video footage of most of the races concerned, as well as transcripts of stewards' inquiries, had been routinely destroyed by Racetech, which provides technical services to racecourses, because the BHA had not taken steps soon enough to collect them.

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