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Jockeys face 18-month ban if caught passing information for reward 25/07/2007

Jockeys and trainers who profit from privileged information can expect to be banned from racing for at least 18 months, following confirmation by the Horseracing Regulatory Authority yesterday of increased penalties for selling inside knowledge about a horse's chances.

Licensed individuals who break the rules will also face complete disqualification from the sport, meaning that they cannot work in racing in any capacity, rather than the less severe penalty of the suspension of their licence.

In recent months, a number of jockeys, including Robert Winston, Tony Culhane and Shane Kelly, have been suspended for between four months and a year for passing information for reward.

Paul Scotney, HRA's Director of Security
Paul Scotney, HRA's Director of Security
Under the new regime a single breach of the rule - one involving information about one horse or one race - will incur a disqualification of between nine months and five years, with an "entry point", the "penalty for a single, average type of offence" set at 18 months. At present, the entry point is nine months, with a range of three months to three years.

However, most cases brought under Rule 243, which was introduced in 2003, involve multiple races. This means that in practice, the ban for such offences could be a great deal longer than 18 months, since the disciplinary panel will have the ability to impose several bans to run consecutively.

"It is important for people to realise that the entry point is for one offence, and that penalties can be aggregated," Paul Scotney, the HRA's head of security, said yesterday.

"Anyone caught passing information for reward is now likely to be warned off for a substantial period of time, and it will be complete disqualification, not suspension.

"Any case of the sort we have seen recently would now result in very long bans, and there will no longer be the option to carry on working in the sport.

"I think that we are justified in doing this now. We have made it clear what inside information is, and we have set the mark in the sand. There is no excuse for anyone any longer and there is now a very good chance that anyone who breaks this rule will be caught."

The new rules would also prevent jockeys who have been banned from claiming injury payments from the riders' insurance scheme. Culhane, who is currently injured, was suspended for a year for a breach of Rule 243 earlier this month. He will continue to receive payments of £1,370 per week from the Professional Riders' Insurance Scheme, which is funded by a surcharge on riding fees paid by owners. Had he been disqualified rather than simply suspended, these payments would have been stopped.

Owners and jockeys' agents are also covered by Rule 243, with an identical penalty range and entry point to those for riders and trainers. Stable staff and service providers - blacksmiths, for example - face an entry point of 12 months' disqualification, with a range of nine months to five years.

"We believe that preventing licensed and registered people who are guilty of this offence from any involvement in racing more accurately reflects the seriousness of the offence," Malcolm Wallace, the HRA's director of regulation, said.

The integrity of British racing is an important selling point as the sport seeks to exploit betting markets around the world, and the Racing UK group of racecourses yesterday announced significant progress on three continents.

In the eastern time zones, agreement has been reached to take British racing into Singapore, while in Australia, the Sky channel will add two British meetings every Thursday to the two it currently broadcasts every Saturday. In the Americas, British racing is now being distributed in Brazil, while the New York Racing Association is promoting British racing during August, in particular at the state's prestigious meeting at Saratoga.
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