A Disciplinary Panel hearing last week held an enquiry about four different races in which Mathias had ridden and placed a bet. Mathias acknowledged his error and the breach of the rules that had taken place. In publishing the reasons for its decision yesterday, the BHA noted that it had taken the intervention of a Ladbrokes employee to bring the misdemeanour to light.
He had telephoned Mathias after the last of the four races, a handicap hurdle at Newton Abbott last May in which a John Mathias had placed a bet. The rider was asked if he was the same John Mathias who had ridden Superman De La Rue. At this point Mathias realised he had been rumbled and contacted the BHA Integrity Department and, in due course, the enquiry followed.
The panel acknowledges that from the moment Mathias contacted them he had been fully co-operative and produced both his telephone and betting records, though they also noted that it must have been obvious by then that he would be investigated. Clearly he had not nipped into his local shop during a lunch break.
The panel also decided that no corruption or dishonesty were involved, including in the race when he backed a different horse to the one he was riding. Then, he pulled up his mount Pathian Prince in a Ludlow Hunter Chase, but there was no suggestion he had done anything to prevent his horse doing its best in the race.
The specific rule he had broken, “placing a bet with a betting organisation in a race in which he was riding” applies only to amateur riders, and Mathias said that he was well aware of it. Yet the panel found he had only “acted foolishly” in disregard of the rule.
Now the reasons given by the panel read as an explanation of their leniency towards Mathias. Unfortunately, they give no indication of what led them to the conclusion that an amateur jockey, in full knowledge of the rules of racing that govern his participation in the sport, was only acting foolishly in disregarding them. They owe us that information.