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Horse Racing: Significant increase in penalties for passing information for reward.

Byline: By Graham Green

THE latest round in the battle to preserve racing's integrity yesterday produced swingeing increases in the punishments for those found guilty of passing information for reward.

The new penalty guidelines, agreed by the Horseracing Regulatory Authority this month, come into force from tomorrow in respect of breaching rule 243.

In future, the entry point for a rider, trainer, owner or authorised jockeys' agent will be 18 months disqualification, with a range of nine months to five years. Currently the entry point is six months suspension or disqualification, with a range of three months to three years.

For stable staff and service providers, such as blacksmiths, the entry point will be 12 months disqualification, with a range of nine months to five years. The present entry point is six months disqualification, with a range of three months to three years.

The jockeys previously found guilty under rule 243, which was introduced in 2003 when the recommended penalty was a fine of pounds 1,000 to pounds 5,000, or suspension/disqualification, have been Graham Bradley, Gary Carter, Robert Winston, Fran Ferris, Brian Reilly, Dean Williams, Luke Fletcher, Robbie Fitzpatrick, Shane Kelly, Josh Byrne, David Nolan and Dean Mernagh.

Two trainers, Shaun Keightley and Phil McEntee, have also been brought to book.

In addition to the deterrent effect of stiffer sentences, the HRA is in the process of more closely defining the entry point under rule 243 cases as the penalty for a single average type of offence. It follows that multiple offences, especially those of a serious nature, will attract a higher penalty than the entry point.

HRA director of regulation Malcolm Wallace said: "We review all our penalties at the end of every calendar year. However, the HRA board was asked to consider increasing the penalties for passing information for reward in the immediate aftermath of the publication of the Inside Information Working Group's recommendations.

"While the current guidelines give the option of disqualification, in practice the penalties handed down to riders or trainers have invariably been suspensions. We believe that preventing licensed and registered people who are found guilty of this offence from any involvement in racing more accurately reflects the seriousness of the offence and will act as a much greater deterrent than suspension.

"To make a direct comparison, under the current guidelines a jockey found guilty of passing information for reward might have received a suspension of one year. Under the revised guidelines, the penalty for the same offence would be a period of disqualification in the region of 18 months, which can be increased if there are aggravating factors."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 25, 2007
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