Dozen Charged in British Racing Probe

An investigation by the security department of Britain's Horseracing Regulatory Authority has resulted in 12 individuals, including four jockeys and a trainer, facing several charges in relation to 40 races run between September 2004 and March 2005.

Results of the investigation were announced on the morning of Nov. 24.

The 40 races primarily took place on the three all-weather courses in Britain – Lingfield, Southwell and Wolverhampton – plus the turf track of Yarmouth and the jump courses Uttoxeter, Sedgefield, Ludlow, and Leicester.

Included in the 12 are flat jockeys Fran Ferris (a licensed jockey at the time of the races in question but not currently), Shane Kelly and David Nolan, jump jockey Josh Byrne and Newmarket-based trainer Phil McEntee. Also implicated are disqualified former owner Ajaz Khan and six other individuals – Mohammed Alyas, Sam Alyas, Greg Hedger, Mohammed Imtiaz, Abdul Khalique and Tanya McGregor-Read – who were all account holders of the betting exchange, Betfair.

Byrne, Ferris, Kelly, McEntee, and Nolan face allegations by the HRA that they communicated to Khan information that was not in the public domain for material reward, gift, or favor.

The quintet also face charges over communicating information to Khan for the purpose of fraudulent practice by Khan – namely the laying of horses on Betfair with the benefit of inside information.

All five have to additionally answer alleged breaches of rules for overtly misleading officials, providing inaccurate information, and hindering or obstructing a person engaged by the HRA with carrying out an investigation in connection with horseracing.

Khan is charged for dealings with the jockeys and trainer before races. He also has to answer to the HRA over corrupt or fraudulent practice by laying horses to lose on Betfair after receiving inside information.

The six other individuals could be declared excluded persons over charges of letting Khan use their Betfair accounts for the purpose of laying horses and refusing to cooperate with investigators.

Khan became a disqualified person on July 6 for up to three years after failing to supply telephone records in compliance with a production order issued by the HRA security department.

The HRA does not expect to hold the disciplinary inquiry into these charges before March 2007.

Kelly, currently recovering from a broken leg, went public in the Racing Post newspaper of Nov. 24 to announce his innocence.

He was quoted as saying: "I have nothing to hide and categorically deny all allegations.

"I stress these allegations are not related to race-fixing, and I will do whatever I can to help the HRA in their investigation and, indeed, have fully assisted them ever since this blew up.

"I know how heavy the HRA punishments are for malpractice and perceived wrongdoing. I simply wouldn't knowingly put myself in a situation where my livelihood was put in jeopardy. Not for any amount of money.

"This inquiry has been a weight on my shoulders for long enough. For more than 18 months, it has been an absolute nightmare for my fiance Hannah and myself.

"All I want to do is clear my name, return to full fitness, and get back to doing what I love best – race riding."

The HRA and its predecessor, the Jockey Club, have brought a number of other cases in the last year or so against people, including jockeys, over horses being laid to lose on betting exchanges. It has also passed on information to the police, who in turn have brought charges which are awaiting trial.

This has largely happened because of audit trails provided by Betfair and other betting exchanges and the powers the HRA has acquired to examine mobile telephone records.