‘Devastated’ Ahern to appeal 10-year ban

Irish jockey Eddie Ahern will appeal the 10-year disqualification imposed on him by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) following the conclusion of a corruption hearing.

‘Devastated’ Ahern to appeal 10-year ban

Ahern, 35, was found guilty of conspiring to commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice in relation to the laying of five horses between September 2010 and February 2011.

More significantly, he was also found in breach of intentionally failing to ensure Judgethemoment was ridden on its merits at Lingfield in January 2011, and of passing information for reward.

Ahern’s solicitor Christopher Stewart-Moore said his client intends to appeal both the BHA disciplinary panel’s findings and the severity of the suspension.

“Eddie Ahern is absolutely devastated by the BHA panel’s findings,” Stewart-Moore said.

“He did not breach the rules of racing as found by the panel or at all and he will be appealing both the findings as well as the very harsh penalties imposed on him.”

Former West Brom footballer Neil Clement has been disqualified from the sport for 15 years and three months. He was also fined £3,000 (€3,500).

Clement faced charges relating to the five races Ahern rode in and also the laying of Hindu Kush, which he then owned, when that horse finished last of six at Kempton in February 2011.

The 34-year-old was found guilty of conspiring to commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice, of placing a lay bet on Hindu Kush and of a failure to provide phone records.

The most serious breach against Tipperary native Ahern was his failure to ride Judgethemoment on its merits.

The Jane Chapple-Hyam trained gelding finished last of seven runners in a two-mile handicap, having been well clear at the halfway stage.

Ahern’s explanation for the ride was that he misjudged the pace and did not realise he was so far ahead.

The BHA disciplinary panel said it “could not accept that a jockey of Ahern’s experience, especially on the all-weather at Lingfield, could have made an error of such an extent”.

A statement from the panel said it considered an eight-year ban was appropriate for the conspiracy of the Judgethemoment breach, that it was a stopping ride that was more than a “mere momentary act. It was planned and done for reward”.

It added: “Stopping a horse is just about the worst breach a jockey can commit, and all must understand that potentially career ending penalties will follow.”

But the Panel also decided to impose a further two-year disqualification for the other aspects of the conspiracy in which it said Ahern was engaged “ie the passing of inside information to Mr Clement for reward in four other instances occurring between September 2010 and February 2011.”

The penalties are to run concurrently, from Wednesday, May 22, 2013 until May 21, 2023 inclusive. He will not be able to ride pending the appeal.

The BHA said Clement’s wagers against Judgethemoment included a spread bet, in which he risked a maximum loss of £41,500 (€48,500) to win what was in the end £8,500 (€10,000).

Ahern was a former champion apprentice in Ireland in 1997, with his first major winner in Britain coming the following year when the Michael Grassick-trained San Sebastian claimed the Ascot Stakes at Royal Ascot.

In recent years he has been used by a number of top trainers, including Henry Cecil, for whom he won the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2009 on the Khalid Abdullah-owned Father Time.

Ahern also won the Musidora Stakes at York in 2010 on Aviate for Cecil and Abdullah.

He gained Group One glory in 2011 when dead-heating on John Gosden’s Duncan in the Irish St Leger, a second top-level success for the rider after Grassick’s Preseli won the 1999 Moyglare Stud Stakes.

Ahern struck up a fruitful partnership with Donald McCain’s popular dual-purpose star Overturn, winning the Northumberland Plate in 2010 and going on to lift the Chester Cup the following year. Ahern and Overturn were also second in the 2011 Chester Cup.

Adam Brickell, Director of Integrity, Legal and Risk for the BHA, said: “Today’s findings have confirmed that another network of corruption has been successfully prosecuted by the BHA, resulting in a total of four individuals being disqualified from racing, including the jockey Eddie Ahern.

“The clear message from this, and other cases heard in the last 18 months, should be that the BHA is better equipped than ever at pinpointing and prosecuting malpractice. The penalties imposed as a result of these cases being heard should serve as a deterrent to others.

“The links we have developed with betting organisations and the advances made in our sharing of data and intelligence mean that we are increasingly effective at gathering evidence that leads to prosecutions.

“This investigation was another landmark in terms of our intelligence and evidence gathering capabilities as it was the first occasion on which we have received assistance from a spread betting company to bring a successful prosecution.

“We have now sought and received significant cooperation on a voluntary basis from more than one such firm and we hope that this is a resource we will continue to be able to turn to in future investigations.

“Meanwhile we continue to await Government’s improvements to the overall legislative framework that will ensure all operators are mandated to share such information with us, and other sporting bodies.”

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