Bet Exchange-Related Charges Don't Stick in Britain

The British Jockey Club held disciplinary hearings the week for two cases but failed to make the main charges stick in regard to wagers made on horses through betting exchanges and bookmakers.

The first case involved the 2-year-old filly Hillside Girl, trained by Alan Berry and ridden by Paul Bradley. She pulled up lame in a five-furlong race at Carlisle June 15. Berry, Bradley, and blacksmith Steve O'Sullivan were charged with various offenses ranging from misleading Jockey Club investigators and supplying inaccurate information to conspiracy to defraud.

The Jockey Club alleged they were guilty of a corrupt or fraudulent practice "in relation to ensuring that Hillside Girl, a filly known or suspected of being lame in her left fore and therefore of having little chance of winning or being placed, should run at Carlisle in the interests of bets in the 'win' and 'placed' betting exchange markets."

The bets were that Hillside Girl would lose. The case was first heard by the disciplinary stewards over three days in July and completed Sept. 14, with the conspiracy to defraud charges against Berry, Bradley, and O'Sullivan withdrawn by the Jockey Club.

Berry was found guilty on three other more minor counts and fined £2,150. O'Sullivan was fined £1,000 for supplying inaccurate information, and Bradley cleared of all charges.

Dale Jewett, an amateur rider, faced lesser charges and had his license withdrawn until Jan. 1, 2005. The Jockey Club adjourned for further consideration of allegations against O'Sullivan and Jewett that they profited from the knowledge that Hillside Girl was lame.

The refusal of a key witness to testify at the hearing appeared to weaken the Jockey Club's case.

Said Berry: "I am delighted my name has been cleared of charges to commit corruption. I am disappointed that I have been punished for making the wrong judgment call. However, the main thing is that my integrity is not in question."