Findlay To Appeal Ban

Fri, Jun 11, 2010

Betting News

Harry Findlay said today he would appeal against the six month disqualification he was handed by a BHA disciplinary panel for laying his own horse. A clearly emotional Findlay, speaking on ATR today, held out little hope of a successful appeal though and also suggested that were the appeal to fail that would signal the end of his ownership of horses here in the UK.

In an interview that will have evoked plenty of sympathy amongst viewers, the Gold Cup winning owner accepted his guilt and acknowledged that the penalty itself was lenient compared to the entry level 18 month disqualification but also argued that ‘it cannot be right’ that people who are not au fait with betting can judge such cases. Having read through the panel’s findings I can’t agree with that aspect of Harry’s argument. It is clear from the charges laid and from the deliberations of the panel that they understood very well what had gone on. They acknowledged his openness in dealing with the investigation, fully took on board that he was a net backer of his horse but also decided that a penalty short of disqualification was not appropriate.

For what it’s worth I’d say the Panel did its job well. There can be no question that the rules were breached. The argument of ignorance of that rule which Findlay has made on both his own behalf and that of his associate Mr Gill is not credible given the media exposure that the rule has enjoyed and given the familiarity that both men have with the worlds of betting and horseracing.

As someone who has frequently pointed out that an exchange audit trail is only as good as the operator of the exchange wants it to be I suppose I should be suitably impressed that Betfair seems to have spilt the beans to the BHA on one of its biggest customers and ambassadors. Call me an old cynic though but I can’t help wondering how the passing on of that evidence came about and why. The big question that nobody seems to have asked is why did Betfair go to the BHA about the second Gullible Gordon lay bet but not the first? According to the BHA disciplinary panel findings it was Findlay himself who drew their investigators’ attention to the earlier instance of a lay bet on Gullible Gordon. They went to interview him about the Chepstow race and Findlay volunteered the information that he had laid the horse for a large amount at Exeter the year before too. What changed in the interim? Why was Betfair so quick to alert the BHA in October 2009 but silent in 2008?

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12 Responses to “Findlay To Appeal Ban”

  1. R Hills is God Says:

    That’s a good question Boycie.

    Another curiosity is that the only two times he’s broken the letter of the law involved the same horse. A remarkable coincidence.

    One wonders if the initial questioning that led to Harry volunteering the fact that he’d laid Gullible Gordon at Exeter was in any way ambiguous.

  2. Halfway To Nowhere Says:

    There are any number of questions that remain unanswered – I suspect we’re not being granted access to all of the information the BHA had to hand – but I thought the opening sentence of paragraph four of the panel’s findings was particularly intriguing:

    “…when Mr Findlay was being interviewed by BHA investigators about a number of matters…”

    Surely ‘a number of matters’ doesn’t refer solely to the two incidents involving Gullible Gordon?

  3. seanboyce Says:

    The panel’s findings do indeed raise that question RHiG. They also refer to Findlay’s belief that the BHA ‘didn’t want to charge him’ being justifiable. From what I can gather both Betfair and the BHA were expecting a small fine to be dished out today, rather than the ban.
    As you rightly say HtN it’s also far from clear that the second Gullible Gordon bet was the only (or even the main reason)for the investigators visit.
    I’ve tried to get Betfair to confirm to me whether or not they failed to notify the BHA of the first bet but did flag up the second but have been told they won’t confirm any details of that type of communication.
    I’m doing ATR tomorrow so I’d be hopeful of asking one or two of these questions if I’m able to then.

  4. Chris B Says:

    It will be somewhat surprising if Betfair provide anything like a plausible explanation to that question, Sean. It will doubtless lead to no end of conspiracy theories and rumours which will only serve to damage the sport still further. Whilst I think Findlay came over pretty well in the interview, and certainly talks a lot of sense with regard to betting matters, the simple fact remains that the rules were broken. For what it’s worth, my take on this whole affair is that it only adds fuel to the fire for those with a limited knowledge of exchange betting who will no doubt jump to the conclusion that racing is bent and this proves it. A sad day.

  5. ken cambs Says:

    Was it an ‘official’ referral from Betfair initially or from an inside source which Betfair were then obliged to confirm? This might explain the silence on the first incident.

    p.s. Sean, does ATR have a free-to-listen-to audio service, please? Cheers.

  6. Halfway To Nowhere Says:

    I have just watched Matt Chapman’s interview with Harry Findlay on the ATR website and whilst I agree that he (Findlay) came across well at times, I was disappointed that he reverted to type and continued (with relentless persistence) to blow his own trumpet at every available opportunity. His snap-shots at the BHA and Betfair were hardly endearing either and seemed unbecoming of someone who, rightly or wrongly, has just been warned off.

    His threat to quit British racing also smacked of desperation, a wounded animal’s last attempt at salvation; roar loud enough and they will believe. I, for one, didn’t buy it and I doubt very much if Findlay’s ego will let him skulk off with his tail between his legs.

    Part of me thinks that precedence should have trumped procedure here, making Findlay an unfortunate outcast and something of a ‘prize kill’ for the BHA’s hunters. But another part of me thinks that we’re not being treated to the full story and that Findlay’s account has so many holes in it that he’s deserving of everything he gets.

    It would be somewhat ironic if the BHA were withholding information and refraining from telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

  7. Santiburi Says:

    I’ll stick with my view that people should be innocent until proven guilty. I don’t know the public knows enough about this case to have a view on Findlay’s guilt but I can concur with one of the comments made by Findlay:
    “The people who ultimately decide if people are charged with gambling-related offences do not understand gambling. It cannot be right.”
    Racing is, as a rule, administered by people who really don’t understand the link between the sport and betting. The sport, in the main, is their hobby: granted, an incredibly lucrative hobby for many of the breeders amongst them but, nevertheless, their hobby.
    If we ignore this case and look at Stewarding. Granted, the Stipes these days are often ex-jockeys and so things have improved but the Stewards don’t understand a lot of what’s going on in races. They find technology baffling and betting is an anethema to them. I suspect that they’re now having to accept that there is a link between the sport and betting but are influenced to believe that it’s only a negative link. I really hope this approach changes before the sport dies.
    Professional administrators. Professional stewards. Commercial reality. Three key element in changing Racing for the better (bettor, maybe!)
    If such changes were to happen then I suspect the rules of racing might recognise reality and be somewhere near up to date. My conjecture would be that Findlay would have to be dense and totally irresponsible to break the spirit of the law given how visible and vocal he’s been about trying to improve Racing’s lot. From what I read, I can see that he has technically broken the rules but when the BHA (the prosecutor) and the evidence provider cast doubts on the penalty, I have to hope that an appeal will either:
    (a) unearth more facts and so possibly explain why the Panel decided on a more severe penalty that seems appropriate, or
    (b) show that Racing can’t be judge and jury on matters of import that it just doesn’t understand.

  8. fawwon Says:

    So has anyone asked Betfair if they are aware of any other owners who have laid their own horses? I am surprised that Harry himself hasn’t asked them as it may show that he was singled out for punishment.

    Findlay is goung to end up doing the sport a massive favour if he can help to force out Paul Roy & Nic Coward. The way that he has turned on them is admirable, As for Paul Struthers isn’t he just a spin doctor paid to muddy the facts in favour of whoever employs him. Poor man has to earn a living in all this but he’s rather irrelevant.

    Harry has the people behind him, he has legal eagles queing up to offer free assistance and after this who can doubt that he knows where the bodies are buried. Go Harry Go.

  9. fawwon Says:

    What was that Sunday Forum all about then. Was it heavily edited as there looked to be bits cut out?

    Is the matter ended or is Harry actively gunning for Coward & Roy, or are they still after him. Are Betfair covering up other matters till after the fltation. The plot thickens and thickens.

  10. Santiburi Says:

    fawwon, I’ve just watched a replay of the Forum programme and only spotted one cut but didn’t feel that it was too significant. Harry was probably getting quite close to the mark in terms of the thinking about how Racing, the Tote and possibly even Betfair might work together. I thought the points that we did hear though were perfectly laudable: I just wonder whether Racing will be able to move in the right direction with Coward and Roy in place.
    I doubt many of the larger bookies would have been too chuffed to hear some of the proposals but, IMHO, the sort of model being discussed would actually work for them in the longer term so I see some light.
    I feel everyone will want to kill the old debates about who did what to Harry and move onto the real issue, which is how does Racing thrive?

  11. fawwon Says:

    I’ve just watched a replay of the Forum programme and only spotted one cut but didn’t feel that it was too significant.

    Santi. Pardon my ignoramce but are you privy to what was cut out of the programme?

  12. Santiburi Says:

    fawwon, definitely not, I am in no way associated with ATR, it just seemed to me that the discussion at one point was heading into more detailed exposure of the talks that Findlay had been having with the Tote and others. Yet, it seemed like there was a jump to a totally different topic without there being an obvious link. I can’t go back and check that now as I’m overseas but there was nothing more to my comment than that.

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