The Floodgate Opens

I suppose it was not the greatest surprise that Harry Findlay’s ban was reduced on appeal but, nonetheless, it is not a good day for the sport.

It seems, sadly, that threatening to throw ones toys out of the pram results in a massive climb down by the disciplinary panel.

I am not going to rake through the details of what Findlay did, they are more than adequately documented elsewhere.

The bottom line is Findlay broke one of the rules which is fundamental to the integrity of the sport. His assertion it was a genuine mistake defies belief …. he is an experienced, professional gambler. These men know the rules inside out and they know the loopholes and they certainly do not make the naïve mistakes Findlay claims to have made.

In my view Findlay thought he could get away with flouting the rules because of who he is – frankly he thinks he is bigger than the sport.

The rule is quite clear, owners cannot lay their own horses – a very simple black and white rule – no ambiguity.

It matters not if Findlay stood to be an overall loser or winner with the lay bet. The bottom line is he fragrantly broke the rule and he should be punished with the full force of the regulation.

Allowing for mitigation in matters of integrity should be a no-go area. Any breach of the rules of racing that impact integrity should automatically have a ban – regardless of who the individual is.

After Findlay received the initial ban he threatened to walk away from the sport in the UK – let’s hope he still sticks to that threat, although I somehow suspect he will not.

Racing does not need the likes of Findlay.

More importantly the findings of the appeal committee have blown a massive hole in the bid to maintain the integrity of racing.

Despite the assertion by the appeal committee that Findlay’s case is unique and a one off, this has set a precedent.

Any half decent lawyer will be able to quote this case as a precedent in any future hearing – thus opening up a massive can of worms.

The decision of the appeal hearing has done racing a great disservice, another nail in the coffin of the sport.     

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Last week I had a blast at what I called the “spineless cowards” of internet forums, interestingly despite a couple of thousand hits not one individual has contacted me to “defend” their position although I have received many mails supporting my stance.

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One of the “marmite” meetings of the year is a mere three weeks away, I refer to Ascot’s Shergar Cup meeting, racings only team competition.

Now I am the first to admit I was the meetings biggest critic when it was first mooted, now I am its biggest fan.

It is a different day out, it may not be a betting medium but there is more to racing than betting. The meeting now attracts a crowd in excess of 50,000 each year as it grows in popularity.

Far too much money has been spent on Racing For Change (RFC), an initiative that has delivered nothing for the money invested. Ascot has done more with the Shergar Cup to involve and attract new racegoers than anything achieved by RFC.

Jockeys are accessible, there is a competitive edge added to the racing with the team competition, which provides fun and entertainment throughout the afternoon.

This year there is a new change, which will be a nightmare for race-readers and commentators, in that jockeys will wear full team colours. Previously runners have worn owners silks with caps and breeches being the distinguishing features.

This year, in consultation with the owners association there will be full team colours worn.

The three jockeys riding for Great Britain will wear red and white, those representing Ireland will sport green and white, jockeys riding for Europe blue and white, while the Rest of the World team will carry black and white silks. In order to differentiate, distinguishing caps and sleeves will be worn.

A good change which will surely enhance the afternoon.

To those who knock the meeting and call it a disgrace the answer is simple - don't watch it, if betting is so important to you then there are another five meetings that day.


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