I tend to think of racehorse trainers as role models for their staff, whether stable hand, apprentice jockeys or the administrative team that supports them. Am I bonkers? (No need to answer that one.) Of course there are occasional serious crimes which hit the headlines, but on the whole it sounds a pretty quiet life in relation to the law.
Last week, though, Newmarket trainer Phil McEntee found himself in front of the magistrates at Bury St Edmunds charged with a regular Friday night crime – assault. On 8 October McEntee had returned to Newmarket from a successful day out at the races. He had sent out 33/1 shot Divine Angel to win at Windsor and subsequently taken advantage of the hospitality tent before having a couple of beers on the way home in the car.
When he arrived at The Horseshoes pub in Newmarket he switched to vodka, five doubles, and this move from beer and champagne to spirits, defending counsel Michael Whatley said, triggered a change in mood and led to the assault.
A customer alerted pub landlady, Elaine Priestley, that McEntee had made a mess in the gents, and had damaged a towel rail there. When she put this to him, McEntee head butted her in what prosecutor Lesla Small called a “totally unprovoked attack”, which left her with swelling and bruising on her right cheek. After other customers saw him off the premises, the police were called, and it also emerged that McEntee had made sexual remarks to the landlady’s daughter, leaving here feeling disgusted and upset.
McEntee pleaded guilty, entering what Whatley described as “a plea which is tendered with the utmost remorse and disgust by the defendant for his behaviour.” McEntee received a 12-month community order that will be supervised by the probation service, and had to pay £200 in compensation to both the landlady and her daughter.
Racing itself is set to play a part in ensuring that McEntee keeps out of trouble in the future. He has engaged the help of Racing Welfare to deal with his alcohol issues, showing another aspect of the breadth of support the charity offers to people in the industry.