Corruption is something we don't want to see in any sport. Earlier this year, four jockeys, Paul Doe, Greg Fairley, Jimmy Quinn, and Kirsty Milczarek, and nine other people were charged with corruption. The allegations relate to horses being laid on the betting exchanges to lose 10 races between 17 January and 15 August 2009. The jockeys may or may not have ridden out the horses to obtain a best placing; others may or may not have passed on information about those horses for reward.
It took the Bloody Hopeless Amateurs aka The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) five months between laying charges in May this year and hearing any evidence. This, they said, was because this was a particularly complex case and they wanted to allow enough time to ensure that any hearing would not need to be postponed.
When the enquiry concluded on 3 November the BHA said it would announce its findings in due course. So when the 13 people facing charges and their legal teams were invited to the BHA's London headquarters yesterday, they might reasonably have expected to learn their fate. However, the BHA shot its credibility in the foot once again, calling off the hearing with no explanation. Instead the panel met in private, and later announced that their findings would not be set out until 14 December.
Why? They have completed investigations, they have heard evidence from those involved, and they have had three weeks to consider that evidence. There can be absolutely nothing gained by further delay.
The impact of these allegations on the four jockeys has varied. Paul Doe and Greg Fairley suffered such a huge drop in rides once the race fixing allegations were made public that they have since given up riding. In contrast Kirsty Milczarek has continued to be regularly employed by a range of stables, and to date has had over 350 rides this season.
Jimmy Quinn acknowledged that at the age of 44 he had changed his style of riding substantially. He said, "I'm going out there riding every horse for its life â€“ and my life. A number of trainers â€“ I don't want to name them â€“ have said they won't use me because of this and in my opinion it would have been much fairer if the charges had been announced in October and the hearing had started almost straightaway. The case hasn't affected my confidence, but I'm riding everything as if it's their last race. There is no room for error and I'm probably being too hard on some of the horses, whereas 10 months ago I would have been easier on them. It has made me ride more aggressively and be determined no mistakes are made."
Of course the charges are serious and needed thorough investigation. After all, if the people involved are found guilty they face the prospect of being banned from the sport. But more than two years on, and more than six months from when the BHA set out the charges, it's time that everyone knew the outcome.