BHA chief wanted ‘tougher sentence’ given to Best

British Horseracing Authority chief executive Nick Rust believes a stiffer penalty should have been handed out to Jim Best.

The Lewes trainer was suspended for six months following a rehearing into the running and riding of two horses in December last year.

He was handed the ban by an independent disciplinary panel after it ruled Best had instructed conditional jockey Paul John to ride Echo Brava and Missile Man other than on their merits, and that they were “stopping rides”.

Best was also found to be in breach of the rule governing conduct prejudicial to horseracing. “Speaking personally, we would have liked to have seen a tougher sentence coming down for this,” Rust said.

“We read very carefully what the panel has had to say and we note their comments with regards to guidelines.

“Within the penalty guidelines there was the scope to hand down a longer sentence, but we can’t be held to account both ways.

“We’ve been asked to put in place an independent judiciary system. A panel is put in place of unquestionable independence and it has made its decision. It is not job have to prosecute and be the judges. Those two things have to be kept separately.

“This gives me a mandate now to make sure the toughest penalties can be put in place within our sport, and I don’t expect any push-back from any representatives with regards from the most serious cases. We will be taking very seriously what this panel says and looking at our penalty structure as a result.”

Best was originally found in breach at a hearing in February, leading to a four-year disqualification.

This was, however, quashed on appeal after it emerged the chairman of the disciplinary panel at that hearing, solicitor Matthew Lohn, was engaged by the BHA on other matters, giving rise to claims of an appearance of bias in favour of the governing body.

An appeal board also said the disciplinary panel’s reasons for its findings ‘’were clearly insufficient to support its decision in this case’’.

At Best’s appeal in May, the guilty verdict and penalty were quashed and a rehearing ordered, with the BHA having conceded that while there was ‘’no suggestion of any actual bias’’ in the case, the non-disclosure of Lohn’s other work ‘’created an appearance of bias’’.

Rust added: “We apologise for the Matthew Lohn incident. He was given work on a discreet matter in 2013 onwards.

“I made a commitment to do that once the Best case was out of the way. It will be there for all to see in chronological order. We made an error of judgement. We made a mistake and have apologised for it. I am doing what I can to make sure not only that the system is reasonable and fair but that we clear up all the cases from the Lohn issue.”


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