Multiple Group One-winning trainer Aidan O’Brien and jockeys Johnny Murtagh and Colm O’Donoghue have been found guilty of breaching “team tactics” rules in the Juddmonte International last month.
After a 3-hour hearing at the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) headquarters, on London’s Shaftesbury Avenue, yesterday (25 September), Mr O’Brien was fined £5,000 by the BHA and both jockeys were banned for 7 days.
BHA media relations manager Paul Struthers said: “As all parties have 7 days from the receipt of the [BHA] disciplinary panel’s reasons to appeal, it would be inappropriate to comment on today’s proceedings.
“But, I would like to stress that in reaching their conclusions the panel made clear there was no attempt to cheat, simply that the breaches occurred due to ignorance of the details of the rule in question”
When the bans start will depend on whether an appeal is lodged — but it will not affect Mr Murtagh’s ride in the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe in Paris on 5 October.
The BHA inquiry was a result of Duke of Marmalade’s win in the 2008 Juddmonte International Stakes at Newmarket in August.
Inquiries were made by the BHA after the authority reviewed a video of the race in which Mr O’Donogue, who was riding Red Rock Canyon, appeared to look over his shoulder and move across to let stablemate Duke of Marmalade through.
And comments made by Mr Murtagh to the press after the race suggested that he had a pre-arranged plan with Mr O’Donoghue to act as a pacemaker to help Duke of Marmalade win.
Mr O’Donoghue admitted acting in the interests of Duke of Marmalade to the BHA disciplinary panel but claimed he was unaware of the team tactics rule.
Duke of Marmalade’s jockey, Mr Murtagh, was found guilty by the BHA of acting contrary to the proper conduct of racing but not the integrity of racing.
Mr O’Brien argued in the hearing that he would rather lose the races than win unjustly. He said he had been paranoid about “team tactics” ever since he was accused of employing them in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in 2006.
The BHA’s team tactics rule, 153 (iv), was introduced in March 2007. It forbids a runner to make a manoeuvre in the interests of another from the same stable.
Mr O’Brien, Mr Murtagh and Mr O’Donoghue all claimed to have been unaware of rule until the St Leger meeting (10-13 September) when jockeys were given a note on the regulations regarding pacemakers.
The trio left Shaftesbury Avenue without making any comment.