Findlay Wins Appeal

The British Horseracing Authority appeals board have resolved to reverse the six-month exclusion from racing for Harry Findlay, who has praised the decision.

Harry Findlay

Harry Findlay

Findlay, suspended for breaching rules forbidding owners placing wagers on their own horses on betting exchanges, will instead receive a £4,500 penalty, after appealing on Wednesday against the judgement of the BHA disciplinary panel.

The well known gambler had placed more money to win than to lose on Gullible Gordon, in events at Exeter and Chepstow.

The available evidence as to whether Findlay's Exeter lay wager was an error, as he had claimed, was thought, by he appeal panel, to be not enough to rule on, deciding instead to concentrate on the Chepstow event.

Large back bets were set first, in the latter event, succeeded with smaller lay bets in-running as Findlay believed lay bets could be set at odds more favourable to him as he knew the riding strategies were to make the running. The tactic improved his result by almost £4,500.

Findlay's statement, issued through his solicitors, said, "After two minutes of listening to Sir Roger Buckley (chairing the appeal board), I knew that I was shorter than 1.01 to get the disqualification overturned.

"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 the undoubtedly toughest four weeks of my life, I very nearly actually smiled when he spoke of a 'gambler's instinct'.

"I knew then that he understood the case and, in my language, he was simply 'the governor'.

"I would like to personally thank Mark Phillips, Oliver Codrington, Danielle Sharkey and Shirley Cowan of the BHA, whose professionalism throughout has helped to keep me sane.

"I would also like to thank my barrister, Roderick Moore, of Colleton Chambers in Exeter, and my solicitor, Daryl Cowan, of DC Employment Solicitors in Southampton, who both did such a fine job for me yesterday and managed to help me keep my cool in what was, for me, a very stressful situation.

"Special thanks go to Paul Barber, who never wavered. The support of the Sangster family, who I have known for less than two years, has been incredible and, in Sam's case, at times inspiring.

"Finally, I would like thank my friend Don Cuddy for making me tough enough to stick it out."

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Cowan added, "Speaking for myself and Roderick Moore, we are delighted and, frankly, relieved both for Harry and for racing.

"As for Harry, 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 that what he did was against the rules.

"A disqualification was plainly wrong, and the appeal board, to their great credit, agreed."

An appeal board statement read, "It was not presented as other than a deliberate betting strategy in which the lay bets were a relatively small part of an overall back bet and in which no-one lost unfairly.

"The panel proceeded on that basis. There was no suggestion that the integrity of the race or Gullible Gordon's running in it was in jeopardy.

"It is clear that Mr Findlay's best financial interests lay in the horse winning.

"There was also the mitigation already mentioned, in particular, Mr Findlay's full co-operation and the fact that it was Mr Findlay himself who drew the BHA's attention to the Exeter race when interviewed concerning the Chepstow betting.

"We feel the panel did not or not sufficiently take into consideration the principle we have mentioned.

"Clearly they must have had in mind that the case did not involve corruption but the reasons do not acknowledge that fact took it outside the real object of the rule.

"We are conscious that our jurisdiction under the rules is limited to a review of the panel's decision as opposed to a rehearing, but in the circumstances outlined here, in particular that the panel did not appear to have regarded the matters mentioned above as significantly material to their decision, we feel justified in expressing our own clear view that Mr Findlay should not have been disqualified."

The BHA head of communications, Paul Struthers, said, "As this case conclusively highlights, both 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.

"The Authority's role is to set the rules and guideline Penalties and 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 themselves say, 'it is hard to envisage any excuses for its breach in future'.

"The appeal board makes detailed reference to the existing rule, and we believe upholds the requirement for the rule as it stands.

"Disciplinary panels have at their disposal flexibility with regards to penalty 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 it is justified, as they have done in the past.

"Consequently we have no intention of amending this rule in any material way.

"The disciplinary panel gave detailed and substantive reasons for their decision as have the appeal board, and as always we respect and accept both decisions."

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