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RACING: TV team slam 'lenient' fines.

Byline: WILLIAM HAYLER

THE producer behind the BBC's Kenyon Confronts series, has blasted racing's regulators for giving trainer David Wintle "a rather pathetic slap on the wrist".

Wintle returned home tight-lipped after being fined a total of pounds 7,200 for offences including bringing racing into disrepute.

The Cotswolds trainer was called to Portman Square to answer allegations that he had brought racing into disrepute when appearing on the BBC's Kenyon Confronts programme last June.

Similar cases involving Wintle's colleagues Jamie Osborne and Ferdy Murphy were heard late last year, both receiving fines of pounds 4,000 having offered full apologies for the involvement in the programme.

TV producer Paul Woolwich launched an attack on the level of punishment handed out to Wintle for comments made on hidden-camera footage shown in the programme and for apparently not running a horse on its merits.

"The Club had a golden opportunity to show the racing public that it was going to have no truck with this sort of cheating but in reality it has let all these trainers off with a rather pathetic slap on the wrist," he said.

"One wonders whose interests they are protecting and how many more Dave Wintles are practising their craft on British racecourses.

"We fear that this rather lenient punishment will do little to reassure the public about the Club's intentions to clean up the sport and may simply offer succour to others prepared to fix races."

In response, John Maxse, the Jockey Club's public relations director, explained that there were legal issues that dictated a stronger punishment might not have been appropriate.

"If Mr Woolwich is talking about taking licences away then there needs to be concrete evidence of a serious breach of the rules before you can take away somebody's livelihood," Maxse said.

"Simply talking of ways in which the rules can be beaten is not enough to justify that.

"A fine of pounds 7,200 is a considerable amount.

"The high-profile fines totalling pounds 4,200 handed out recently to Jonjo O'Neill for two non-triers clearly demonstrate that if horses are not run on their merits, connections will be penalised.

"The Jockey Club knows better than anyone how important it is that the public has confidence in racing."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 10, 2003
Words:375
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