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In another blow to racing’s reputation, four jockeys and one former rider have been charged with race fixing in an investigation by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).

If found guilty, the quintet could be banned from racing for 25 years.

The jockeys involved are Paul Doe, Greg Fairley, Kirsty Milczarek, Jimmy Quinn and jockey-turned-trainer Paul Fitzsimmons. Owners Maurice Sines, James Crickmore, plus six others — Peter Gold, Nick Gold, Shaun Harris, David Kendrick, Darren May and Liam Vasey — have also been charged and face a similar ban.

The charges focus on laying horses — betting on them to lose — in 10 races between January and August 2009. As well as being charged with committing a fraudulent practice, each of the jockeys will also face charges on communicating insider information for reward and for stopping their horses from running to their best ability.

Chris Brand of the BHA said: “Racegoers and punters should be reassured that the overwhelming majority of races are free of suspicion. We are committed to deterring and detecting wrongdoing when we believe there is evidence of it.”

This is the biggest investigation into race fixing since the trial of former champion jockey Kieren Fallon collapsed in 2007.