TV probes racing scandal

  • The Jockey Club is again facing criticism after coming under the spotlight of BBC TV’s Panorama, which highlights alleged corruption

    A Labour MP has called for the Jockey Club to be stripped of its regulatory powers, following Sunday night’s BBC Panorama documentary, Corruption in Racing, which put the sport in the dock.

    Alan Meale, MP for Mansfield, said that the Jockey Club was not fit to regulate horseracing. The programme portrayed the Jockey Club as a privately elected club unwilling to protect a sport, which had become institutionally corrupt.

    Meale was a member of the Home Office Select Committee, which in1992 demanded the creation of the British Horseracing Board in order to shift power from the Jockey Club to this new body.

    Roger Buffham, former head of security at the Jockey Club, who was dismissed from the job on two counts of alleged sexual harassment, was used as whistleblower for the programme and went as far as saying that a “generation of national hunt jockeys had been corrupted”.

    The most embarrassing episode for racing’s aristocratic rulers was the secretly filmed meeting between Buffham and his successor as head of security, Jeremy Phipps, a former Major General in the SAS.

    Phipps made remarks that members of the Jockey Club are “f****** ignorant”. Helater stated that he was going along with Buffham’s views because he was hoping to extract information from him. Phipps position at the Jockey Club has become untenable.

    Buffham claimed that drugs baron Brian Wright, currently on the run in Northern Cyprus, is at the heart of the corruption. He alleges that Wright fixed numerous races and had a number of jockeys in his pay.

    Dermot Browne, the former jockey and, it must be said, an unreliable witness, admitted to doping 27 horses in 1990 and that Wright paid him for his crimes. Browne was interviewed at length, but Panorama did not inform viewers that he had been warned off for 10 years by the Jockey Club.

    The programme looked into bookmaker Victor Chandler’s “no lose” accounts offered to trainers Jimmy FitzGerald and Gaye Kelleway and how another bookmaker William Hill had refused to help with investigations into a suspect two-horse race at Warwickin 1996.

    Graham Bradley, the jockey who pulled up Man Mood in that two-horse affair, was interviewed about his involvement with Wright. Champion flat jockey Kieren Fallon refused to talk to the cameras about his alleged associations with the Triads.

    Panorama failed to produce any new evidence, and indeed any grounds for bringing the suspects to court.

    However, these allegations must not be brushed aside and the Jockey Club now has the job of building confidence in the integrity of the sport.

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