Racehorse owner Harry Findlay has won his appeal against a six-month ban from the sport.
Mr Findlay, who owned the Cheltenham Gold Cup winning Denman, received a six-month ban on 10 June after admitting to “laying” his horse Gullible Gordon on two occasions — in a novice hurdle at Exeter on 21 October 2008 and a novice chase at Chepstow on 10 October 2009.
It is against British Horseracing Authority Rules for an owner to lay or bet on their own horses to lose.
At a hearing on Wednesday (14 July) it was announced his ban would be reduced to a fine of £4,500 after the appeal board decided the punishment given originally was out of proportion.
The panel accepted there was no corrupt intent and added that Mr Findlay had been “more than co-operative throughout the course of our investigation”.
The £4,500 fine represents the total he won from breaking the rules.
“A clear distinction needs to be drawn between a lay bet placed as part of a corrupt practice or even a conspiracy and a betting strategy which has not interfered in anyway with the integrity of the race and, in particular, the running of the horse in question,” the panel announced in its judgement.
“Further, the BHA had no evidence to suggest that the object behind it was an attempt to manipulate the market and Mr Findlay strongly denied any such intention.
“Mr Findlay has suffered disqualification and the indignity of it for over a month now. That will remain with him and we regard it as a serious penalty in itself.”
Mr Findlay has already served one month of the ban, meaning he missed the Royal Ascot win of his horse Bergo, which had to run in the Sangster colours.
In a statement issued by Mr Findlay’s solicitors, he said: “After two minutes of listening to Sir Roger Buckley [the board’s chair], I knew that I was shorter than 1.01 to get the disqualification overturned.
“After the undoubtedly toughest four weeks of my life, I very nearly actually smiled when he spoke of a ‘gambler’s instinct’. I knew then that he understood the case and, in my language, he was simply ‘the governor’.”
Mr Findlay, who was a part owner of 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Denman, has since traded his half share of the horse with co-owner Paul Barber for Mr Barber’s half share Big Fella Thanks.
He has also moved two horses to Tim Vaughan and Ferdy Murphy after he reportedly felt he wasn’t getting public support from Paul Nicholls.
There are now questions of whether the rule banning owners to lay their own horses should be re-examined, but the BHA said it had no plans to change the rules.