The trial of six-time British champion jockey Kieren Fallon, 42, and two other riders, who have been accused of fixing the outcome of 27 races, began in a London, England, court Oct. 8. The prosecution at the Old Bailey alleged there was an agreement not to allow horses to “run on their merits.”
The horses did not always lose as intended, but when they did, a dishonest syndicate made money from the online betting exchange Betfair, the jury of seven women and five men was told.
Fallon, successful on Dylan Thomas in the previous day’s Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I), was in the dock to hear the charge of conspiracy to defraud between December 2002 and September 2004 by interfering with the running of horses to ensure they lost races, defrauding Betfair players and others who bet the races.
The six defendants--Fallon, formerly of Newmarket, Cambridgeshire, but now of Tipperary, Ireland, and the two other riders, Fergal Lynch, 29, of Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire, and Darren Williams, 29, of Leyburn, North Yorkshire; Lynch’s brother, Shaun Lynch, 37, of Belfast; former racing syndicate director Miles Rodgers, 38, of Silkstone, South Yorkshire; and Philip Sherkle, 42, of Tamworth, Staffordshire--have all pled not guilty. Rodgers is also accused of concealing the proceeds of crime.
Prosecutor Jonathan Caplan told the court: “This case concerns a serious allegation of fraud. It is unusual because it is also concerned with sport, and any allegation of fraud in that context obviously undermines the integrity of the sport in question.
The object of the conspiracy was to wager large amounts of money on a particular horse to lose in each of those races while knowing that the jockey was prepared, if necessary, to cheat by stopping the horse, according to Caplan. He told the court that the betting was organized and conducted by Rodgers, who had numerous accounts in different names with Betfair.
Within a short space of time of the calls from the jockeys, Rodgers would bet sizeable sums of money “or lay bets to achieve a small return by comparison,” Caplan said during the court proceeding. Bets were usually more than £100,000 to gain about £20,000. Others would be some £60,000 to collect about £4,000, he said.
Though the defendants firmly denied there was a plot, some of the men agreed they had phoned each other for the purpose of passing on tips or betting information.
Caplan said there was no evidence Fallon ever received any money or benefit from Rodgers or anyone else connected with the alleged conspiracy. But it was the prosecution’s case he held himself accountable for losses that cost the conspirators about half a million pounds.
“He would have to earn that money back for the conspirators by stopping horses before he would receive any benefit himself,” Caplan said. “The inference to be drawn is that he was clearly involved for reward.”
The trail was initially expected to last four months, though an agreement has been reached between the parties that has significantly reduced the number of witnesses to be called to testify, according to reports.