If Martin Dwyer thought his nightmare time with the Indian racing authorities was over, new allegations published in the Mumbai Mirror last Friday could bring him into conflict with the Royal Western Indian Turf Club (RWITC) once again. The Mumbai Mirror calls the story “the sport’s biggest race fixing racket in recent years.”
The report relates to events surrounding the running of the Group 2 Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Eclipse Stakes in February 2010, at the same Mahalaxmi course where Dwyer fell foul of the RWITC earlier this year. A CD, supposedly containing a recorded telephone conversation lasting 10 minutes between the two jockeys, reached the newspaper last month.
In it, Dwyer, who was not riding in the race, says he plans to back a horse called Icebreaker, ridden by another jockey, David Allan. Mulrennan is riding Onassis, a horse he says in the race at the insistence of the owners and against the advice of his owner. That’s all to the good, Dwyer is supposed to have said, as it pushed out the price of Icebreaker.
A critical moment follows, with Mulrennan alleged to have said, “So I will try and sit….” But what else did he say?
Icebreaker did go on and win the race, with a senior RWITC official telling the newspaper, “ Mulrennan, who was astride Onassis, never makes any headway in the race before finishing fourth. These jockeys apparently worked in tandem for their own mutual benefit. We can only speculate on how many such incidents have taken place before and after the Eclipse Stakes' race."
It all sounds rather like a severe case of sour grapes, if not Delhi belly, following the BHA’s decision not to reciprocate the 56-day ban imposed by the Indian stewards. As the incident took place over three years ago the RWITC cannot take any action against Dwyer and Mulrennan, though you sense from this comment they would love to do so. Chairman of the RWITC, Khusroo Dhunjibhoy, said, "No incriminating evidence like this was ever found against foreign jockeys but this recording busts the myth that they don't indulge in any wrongdoing. We have learnt our lesson and will make every effort to ensure that professionals, both Indian and foreign, don't violate the integrity of the sport. Owners will now have to be extremely careful about the credentials of the foreign jockeys they want to hire."
It remains to be seen whether that is the end of the matter. The British Horseracing Authority was cautious, with director of raceday operations and regulation Jamie Stier keeping a watching brief on things. He said, “We’re aware of the newspaper article but haven’t been contacted by the RWITC in relation to the matter. We’ll see how the Indian authorities intend to deal with it and then consider our position.” As the Indian authorities can do no more, it seems unlikely that the BHA will set up its own investigation.
On the other hand, Dwyer and Mulrennan may not let the matter rest. Though neither would say anything about it, Professional Jockeys’ Association chief executive Paul Struthers spoke for them, saying, “We’re aware of the article in some Indian publications. Given the potentially libellous nature of the article we’re consulting lawyers.”