Blockley and McKeown warned off

Trainer Paul Blockley and jockey Dean McKeown have been declared disqualified persons having being found in breach of the Rules of Racing by a disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority.

Blockley has been warned off - meaning he cannot entered premises licensed by the BHA or talk to other licensed individuals - for a total of two and a half years, while McKeown has been warned off for four years after the latest investigation into alleged corruption.

The pair, along with seven others, were charged in connection with the laying of horses to lose in 11 races that took place between March 2004 and December 2005.

All have seven days on receipt of the panel's reasons for the punishments to appeal. On leaving the inquiry Blockley said: "I have just come out and need time."

The BHA later announced a slight difference to Blockley's disqualification which contemplates "allowing relief for the usual effects of disqualification so that his ability to continue to live in his present house is not affected".

They also indicated that as and when he should apply to work in racing stables that he should be allowed to be employed by an appropriate licence holder in his yard.

The trainer-jockey combination were found guilty of breaching rule 201 (v) in that they conspired with other persons to commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice by passing on "inside information".

The Lambourn handler was also found guilty of breaking rule 155(ii) in that he failed to give or cause to be given to McKeown such instructions as were necessary to ensure Hits Only Money ran on its merits at Wolverhampton in December 2005.

McKeown, who has three times ridden the winner of the Cambridgeshire and enjoyed a terrific association with the globe-trotting Collier Hill, was judged by the panel to have breached rule 157 in that he intentionally failed to ensure that Only If I Laugh, Smith N Allan Oils, Hits Only Cash and Hits Only Money ran on their merits in races between June 2004 and December 2005.

Of the others charged, owner Clive Whiting was disqualified for eight years, his brother Vincent Whiting excluded for four years, and former owner David Wright disqualified for six years.

Nicholas Rook was excluded for six years, former owner Marcus Reeder disqualified for 18 months, owner Martyn Wakefield disqualified for 18 months and owner Derek Lovatt fined £20,000 (€25,133).

Reeder and Wright have both been warned off for laying their own horses in the past, but those disqualifications have since ended.

During the six-day hearing which brought about the penalties, the panel heard that the Wright and Rook accounts were used with greater frequency in the 11 races than in others.

The panel took the view that McKeown's relationship with Clive Whiting was "much closer than the normal professional relationship of a jockey with an owner for whom he rode regularly. They were friends and had business dealings. McKeown became in effect Clive Whiting's racing advisor."

For this reason "the panel was convinced that McKeown was fully aware that his input about the chances of the horses he rode in eight of the suspect races was being used for lay betting organised by Clive Whiting".

Where Blockley was concerned the panel judged that "Blockley was aware from the outset that his opinions would be put to use for the purpose of lay betting through the Whitings".

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