BHA ruling in Findlay case illogical

POOR old Harry Findlay, banned for six months by the British Horseracing Authority for laying his own horse on two occasions on Betfair.

It set me thinking the other day about some of the shenanigans we have seen on Irish racecourses over the years.

Betfair offers the best way of all of robbing punters, of course, but robbing them was part of this game long before that method of betting became normal practice.

Many of us who have joined the grey-haired brigade, or are in the process of doing so, will remember the high-profile case decades ago involving a jockey, bookmaker and owner.

Legend has it that the owner owed the bookmaker and to pay the debt stopped his horse one day in Ireland.

The jockey, obviously, did the stopping and innocent punters were simply robbed blind. The particular bookmaker is now retired and there are many in this country who are well familiar with the facts of the case.

Then there was a point-to-point in Cork. I distinctly remember what went on that afternoon, with at least two bookmakers laying a horse for a trainer.

Naturally, he didn’t win. One of the bookmakers involved is now dead, but the other remains part of the betting-ring.

Then at another point-to-point in the Cork area a bookmaker was approached by an owner. The owner said he intended to stop his own horse and wanted the bookmaker to lay it for him.

The bookmaker closed his satchel, got down off the box and refused to bet in the race. That man remains part of the betting-ring and I have to admit to ever since having the utmost of respect for him.

You can be sure there are numerous other cases, with almost certainly one common denominator, those involved did the crime, but not the time.

By comparison what Harry Findlay did was literally of no consequence, but the ‘rules’ have forced him to pay a very high price indeed.

Of course Findlay was in breach of the rules, but they surely weren’t established by the BHA to treat his stupidity in the same manner as you would someone who set out to cheat.

If an owner, trainer or jockey, or the three together, decide to stop a horse and then lay it on Betfair to lose, then any sentence the BHA might hand down, no matter how draconian, would be fine by this observer.

Anyone unscrupulous enough to think it is fine to put their hand into your pocket and take out as much money as they can grab should be crucified on a cross. People who behave like that are crooks.

That is why the BHA have stringent rules and have total access to Betfair. When skullduggery is discovered then if the BHA decided, horror of horrors, to make the wrongdoers watch every game in the dreary World Cup then that would be fine.

But Findlay didn’t fit into that category at all, not by a long shot. He laid his own horse Gullible Gordon to lose at Chepstow and Exeter, but had a lot more on to win and desperately wanted him passing that lollipop stick in front.

When the horse lost at Exeter, Findlay lost over £62,000, when he won at Chepstow, Findlay won in excess of £32,000.

He never set out to cheat anyone, there was no hint of corruption, Findlay was just trying to put himself in as favourable a position as possible.

Of course he broke the rules and was utterly naive if he thought there would be no consequences.

But to treat him in essentially the same way as you would the high-roller thief who rolls out off the bed every morning with nothing else on his mind only dreaming up new ways of robbing people was ridiculous.

Findlay now cannot have horses running in his own name and cannot go racing for six months.

We have to have laws to govern literally every aspect of our lives, otherwise their would be chaos.

But the way the BHA interpreted this rule was illogical. So many have come out on the side of Findlay that you could almost accuse the BHA of bringing the game into disrepute.

A rap on the knuckles would have been more than sufficient. If Findlay ever laid one of his own horses again then they could ban him for life and no one would have an ounce of sympathy for the man.

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