Reasons for Turner suspension

Reasons for the suspension of jockey Hayley Turner from the Inquiry heard by the BHB Disciplinary Panel on Thursday 14 December 2017.

Hayley Turner

1. On 14 December 2017 the Independent Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) held an enquiry into whether Hayley Turner, a licensed jockey, had been in breach of Rule (D)53 of the Rules of Racing on the grounds that she had placed bets on horseracing when she held a professional jockey’s licence.

2. Mr Tim Naylor, Head of Regulation, presented the case on behalf of the BHA. Ms Turner, who was present was represented by Mr Rory Mac Neice.

3. No objection was made to any of the Panel members sitting.

4. Rule (D)53.2.1 states, “ a Professional Rider must not bet or lay a horse to lose any race with a Betting Organisation”.

5. At the outset of the enquiry Ms Turner (whom we shall hereafter call ‘Hayley’) admitted she had been in breach of this Rule.

6. None of the background facts were disputed and they are outlined below.

7. Hayley has ridden as a jockey since March 2000. She held an apprentice licence until November 2005, and since then, apart from a period of months in 2016, a professional jockey’s licence. She has been notably successful.

8. At the beginning of September 2015 she publicly announced her intention to retire at the end of the turf flat season. Her intended last ride was in the Betfred November Handicap at Doncaster on 7 November 2015. Her licence expired on March 2017. Hayley did not relinquish her licence, but she did not ride between 7 November 2015 and 17 March 2016

9. On 17 December 2015 Hayley opened an account with the bookmakers Paddy Power. It was opened in her name with details of her home address, telephone number etc given. Between the above date and 17 March 2016 more than 50 bets on horse racing were placed by Hayley with Paddy Power.

10. At the beginning of July 2016 Hayley applied to renew her licence. Her reason for so doing was that she had been invited to ride in the Shergar Cup in August and she wanted to be able to have some preparatory rides. On 6 July 2016 her application was granted and she was notified on that day by email which stated that the licence was valid from 06/07/2016 to 05/07/2017.

11. On 6 July 2016 Hayley had two bets on horses running at evening meetings and had further bets on 7 and 8 July 2016.

12. Between 15 July and 6 August 2016 Hayley rode in 14 races in Britain including 5 in the Shergar Cup at Ascot on 6 August 2016. There were no bets on the Paddy Power account between 8 July and 2 October 2016, but between the latter date and the end of the year 32 bets were made on the account. Hayley retained the jockey’s licence issued on 6 July 2016.

13. Between 1 January 2017 and 9 February 2017 Hayley had 14 bets on her account.

14. On 21 February 2017 Hayley in accordance with what had been her normal practice submitted an application to renew her licence. In the form to the question, “Do you hold a current licence” she answered “Yes”. On 23, 24 and 25 February 2017 she made a number of bets on her account.

15. On 28 February 2017 Hayley was telephoned by the BHA and told that her licence continued until 5 July 2017. Hayley explained that she had made the application in February as that is what she had always done in the past.

16. In the middle of March 2017 there were communications between Hayley and the BHA about her riding in Greece for which she needed BHA clearance. Some of the e-mails stated as their ‘subject’, “Riding in Greece on a British licence”. Around the same time there was a lot of activity by Hayley on the betting front – it was the Cheltenham Festival Meeting – 9 bets being made by Hayley in the afternoon of 14 March alone. Hayley rode in three races in Greece on 15 April 2017.

17. Between 15 April and 10 June 2017 Hayley placed 21 bets on her Paddy Power account. On 14 June she submitted an application to renew her licence. This was granted on 26 June 2017. On 3 July 2017 she rode a winner at Windsor and the following day competed in the Lady Jockey’s Thoroughbred World Championship in Sweden. Four days later on 8 July Hayley had three bets on her Paddy Power account.

18. Between 19 August and 14 October 2017 Hayley rode in 28 races in this country. Her last recorded bet with Paddy Power was on 8 July 2017. It was on 23 August 2017 that Hayley was contacted by Mr Tim Miller, Investigating Officer Team Leader at the BHA, to inform her he wanted to interview her about her betting account.

19. By way of summary of Hayley’s betting on her Paddy Power account: between 17 December 2015 and 8 July 2017, excluding the period in 2016 when she did not have a licence, she placed 164 bets which showed a profit of about £160. The largest amount staked was £100 (two occasions), the majority in modest sums between £5 and £20. None of the bets were on horses which Hayley was riding or on races in which she was riding.

20. Mr Naylor in presenting the BHA’s case made it clear that it was not considered or alleged that there were any integrity issues involved in Hayley’s conduct. But Mr Naylor did draw to our attention that in the Guide to Procedure and Penalties the recommended Entry Point for breach of Rule (D)53 is Disqualification for 18 months.

21. It was a central feature of Mr Mac Neice’s powerful submissions made on Hayley’s behalf that her underlying integrity was not challenged or in doubt. There was no sinister or corrupt element in any of her betting activities. He was able to put before us references from two respected trainers, Michael Bell and Marcus Tregoning, and two leading figures in the racing world, Harry Herbert, Chairman of Highclere Racing, and Tony Nerses, Managing Director of Blue Diamond Stud. Their letters informed us as to how highly she is regarded by these persons with particular emphasis on her honesty and exemplary professional behaviour. Mr Mac Neice urged us to ignore the Guide’s recommended entry point which he said was clearly not directed to this kind of case where there was a complete absence of any devious or dishonest motive. As to how his client explained her conduct, he said that she was confused by her two disparate roles she now carried out, that of a television presenter and racing personality much of the time, and that of a professional jockey at other times. When in the former role she considered that like any of her TV colleagues she could have a bet, but when, and only when, she was a jockey was she prohibited from betting.

22. Mr MacNeice suggested that if we were to seek assistance from the Guide we should perhaps consider the entry as regards breaches under Rule (A)30 which covers activity which is prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct or good reputation of horse racing. That could be said to be the kind of harm caused by Hayley’s betting, and Mr Mac Neice pointed out that the initial recommendation in respect of the Entry Point is a fine of £2000 with a possible range of between £1,000 and £15,000. Mr Mac Neice contended that a fine in the lower end of that range is the appropriate penalty in this case.

23. The Panel readily accepts that Hayley’s betting activities did not involve any improbity beyond a breach of a Rule and for that reason the Guide’s recommended entry point for a breach of (D)53 is not applicable. (It was noted that Rule (D)54 which prohibits amateur riders from betting, but only in races in which they were riding, has the same Entry Point in the Guide, which would seem to be an indication that the recommended Entry Point in in both (D)53 and 54 is primarily directed at riders, whether professional or amateur, betting in races in which they were riding). Further, as regards the bets that were placed between December 2015 and March 2016 we are prepared to regard these as amounting to little more than technical breaches as Hayley had no rides during these months and clearly considered herself as having retired, albeit that strictly speaking she should have formally relinquished her licence.

24. From July 2016 the position was very different. Hayley returned to the ranks of professional jockeys, renewing her annual licence and riding intermittently during the course of its validity. Notwithstanding the prohibition on betting by professional riders set out in the Rules in clear straightforward terms, and without exceptions, it was consistently disregarded by Hayley. We do not reject out of hand her explanation of her confused state of mind, but it would seem that she did not harbour any doubts about the propriety of what she was doing as she never sought advice, nor referred to the Rule to remind herself as to its terms. It seems to us that an underlying cause of her conduct was a lax and complacent attitude to compliance with the Rules of Racing and an irresponsible lack of awareness of the potential damage to the reputation of racing by her regular betting whilst holding a licence. She must or should have realised that as an experienced and well-known and respected jockey any misconduct by her could impact adversely on the public perception of the integrity of racing.

25. For these reasons we cannot accept Mr Mac Neice’s submission, which we have considered very carefully, that a fine is an appropriate penalty. Our considerations have taken into account the positive benefits Hayley has contributed to the reputation of racing by her successful career, and by the way in which through hard work and commitment leading to success she has shown the way to what can be achieved by a female pursuing a career as a jockey.

26. If not a fine what is the appropriate penalty? In our view it has to be a period of suspension. We have noted that if we followed Mr Mac Neice’s reasonable suggestion that we should refer to the Guide’s advice as to penalties for breaches of Rule (A)30 involving behaviour prejudicial to the integrity to the integrity, proper conduct or good reputation of horseracing, we find listed, as alternatives to a fine, suspension or disqualification in the range 1 month to 3 years with an Entry Point of 3 months. Disqualification we reject as too severe. As for the period of suspension we consider that the facts of this case would justify a period of 6 months. But a substantial discount is merited not only by virtue of the factors mentioned in the paragraph above, but also on account of Hayley’s attitude and actions when and after she was interviewed by BHA investigators. She immediately admitted her misdeeds and has fully cooperated in The BHA enquiries. Thus, we conclude that the suspension should be for a period of 3 months from 14 December 2017 until 13 March 2018 inclusive.

The Panel was: Patrick Milmo QC (Chair), Lyn Griffiths and Gardie Grissell.