The British Horseracing Authority’s longest and most complicated investigation into corruption in racing took another twist yesterday when an appeal by Kirsty Milczarek resulted in the overturning of her two year disqualification from the sport.Along with 10 other people, including three other jockeys and two owners, Milczarek had been found guilty of a breach of the rules following an enquiry that lasted more than two years. The investigation followed a race at Lingfield in 2009, which the BHA said had featured extraordinary betting patterns. Milczarek rode a horse called Obe Gold in the race, and it had been laid to lose, thereby netting a substantial amount of money by owner James Crickmore and others.
Last December the BHA’s Disciplinary Panel found Milczarek to have been involved in this cheating as she had removed a hood from the horse’s head several seconds before the off, contrary to instructions given by the trainer. This was alleged to have compromised the chances of Obe Gold winning the race.
New evidence presented to the appeal board, including some from Milczarek’s partner at the time, Kieren Fallon, led to yesterday’s ruling that there was “insufficient evidence to support the panel’s conclusion that Milczarek was party to the conclusion.”
After the verdict she spoke of her relief that she had been found innocent of any involvement in race fixing. “I don’t want to say I’m shocked but I’m just glad justice came round eventually and that I’ve cleared my name. They took race-riding away from me, but then to be labelled corrupt was just awful.”
Milczarek says she needs a week or so of work riding before she is seen on a racecourse again, but she is able to re-apply for her licence immediately. Already trainers have pledged to employ her again. Luca Cumani, for whom Milczarek has ridden 13 winners in the last five years expressed a widespread view when he said, “She should never have been put through this.”
And both John Ryan and Conor Dore were amongst those to say she would be up on their horses before too long. It’s Dore’s words that the jockey should carry forward in her mind. He said, “I’m delighted for her. She’s always ridden with the utmost integrity for me and I’ll be more than happy to use her again.”