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Gambling addict owner is jailed for 12 years; Trainers never met man who stole pounds 10m.

Byline: GRAHAM GREEN

GRAHAM PRICE, jailed for 12 years at Swansea Crown Court yesterday for stealing pounds 10.3 million from the Halifax bank and private investors to fund his gambling habit, was a man of mystery who kept his distance from his racing contacts, despite paying pounds 250,000 to buy into a string of 14 horses.

Neither Keith Ingram, organiser of Ormonde Racing in which Price, 58, was part-owner in six horses, nor their trainers, Jamie and Julian P oulton, ever clapped eyes on the betting-mad financial consultant from Swansea, either on the racecourse or via a stable visit.

Similarly, trainer Brian Ellison had only one telephone conversation with Price when he owned a share, reported in court to have been worth pounds 69,000, in Carte Diamond, the talented dual-purpose stayer who races in the name of tipster Ashley Carr.

Carr could not be contacted last night, but his solicitor issued a statement denying he was one of two tipsters in the Brighton area said during sentencing to have been paid pounds 500,000 by Price.

Ingram, from Hove, admitted: "It sounds odd, but I never actually got to meet the guy.

"We spoke on the phone on a regular basis - even daily - as we were backing horses together and discussing them, but although we arranged to meet a couple of times, it never actually came off and, as far as I know, he never visited a racecourse in his life.

"He seemed a genuinely nice and normal family guy and it was a big shock to me when I found out where his money had come from. When I heard the news it was a complete bolt out of the blue, but then I suppose the Yorkshire Ripper didn't come across as a murderer when you met him."

P rice, whom fraud investigators estimate spent pounds 1.7m on betting advice, never went to see his horses run and only visited the races on trips through work.

Jamie Poulton, who handled five of the Ormonde Racing horses - River Bug, One In The Eye, Bumblefly, Dodger and Mujalia - commented: "I never met him. He never came to the yard, I never saw him at the races and I didn't know anything about him. I spoke to him once on the phone after River Bug won, and that was it. When I read about what he'd done, it was as big a revelation to me as everybody else."

P oulton's brother Julian, who trained Hammer Of The Gods for the syndicate, said: "I never came across Graham Price. I think my assistant may have talked to him on the phone, but I never had any dealings with him at all."

Ellison said: "I talked to him once on the phone, and that was to chase some money. Carte Diamond only ran a couple of times when Graham P rice was among the owners, and when we found out about all this, the receivers came in, had the horse val-ued, and we agreed on the price for his share."

Carr's solicitor Malcolm Fitzgerald, later issued a statement that said: "Our client's only connection with Mr Price was that he had a share of a few racehorses in syndicates with other racehorse owners in which Mr Price also had an interest.

"Upon being made aware of the fact that Mr Price had used misappropriated money to acquire his interest, our client has fully co-operated with the legal team acting on behalf of the Halifax and the syndicate members have paid the Halifax to purchase Mr Price's interest in those racehorses.

"Our client has no other association with Mr Price and has received no monies whatsoever from him either in his personal or in his business capacity."

Owner Lee Bolingbroke, from Portslade, near Brighton, was involved in a couple of horses in which Price had shares, but again never met him.

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Graham Price: kept his distance from racing contacts
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Nov 9, 2005
Words:660
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