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Racing Post

8 May: Spotlight Sports Group, the company which owns the Racing Post, as well the tipping site My Racing and the US betting site Pickwise, is set to be sold for £500m according to a report in today’s Sunday Times.

The purchaser is named as Better Collective, a Copenhagen based sports betting media company which was formed in 2004 and owns such brands as, and SmartBets.

Spotlight was put up for sale by its parent company, private equity firm Exponent, who have been its owners since 2016. It had a stake in Spotlight of over 75%, with the remainder held by senior staff. Exponent appointed US-based bankers PJT Partners in December to handle the sale.

It is understood a number of enterprises showed interest in Spotlight but fell away to leave Better Collective, which has a £700m valuation on the Stockholm stock exchange, in pole position to complete the purchase.

The Sunday Times had approached Exponent, PJT and Better Collective for comment, but they declined.


21 April: The BHA has expressed concern at the tone and management of the Appeal Board’s hearing of into Robbie Dunne’s actions against fellow jockey Bryony Frost. Whilst the BHA felt the oringinal suspension of 18 months was appropriate, it accepts the Appeal Board’s decision to reduce the penalty.

However the BHA shares misgivings about the way the hearing was handled, and is undertaking a review to the Appeal Board framework so that, as well as having the necessary legal skills., it also is suitably diverse and inclusive. The BHA said in a statement:

“The decision of the independent Appeal Board confirms that Jockey Robbie Dunne’s conduct, described as ‘reprehensible and disgraceful’, was of a nature that cannot and will not be tolerated anywhere within the sport of horseracing. While the BHA considers the original 18-month period of suspension (with the final 3 months of this suspended) to have been an appropriate penalty for this conduct, it accepts the decision of the independent Appeal Board to reduce this penalty.
“Calling out this behaviour required considerable courage and the BHA remains committed to creating an environment within our sport whereby everybody feels empowered to challenge inappropriate behaviour where they see it and feels comfortable in doing so.
“While it is fair to point out that both sides received an opportunity to articulate their arguments before the independent Appeal Board, the BHA is aware of the criticisms of the tone and management of the Appeal Board hearing, and recognises and shares these concerns.
“A review of the Appeal Board structure was discussed some time prior to this hearing and the BHA will be working with the independent Judicial Panel Chair on a review of the Appeal Board framework in the coming months. It is the BHA’s view that such Panels, as well as having the appropriate legal skills and experience, ought also to be appropriately diverse and inclusive at all times.”

Racing meets Jurasic Park – Mike Deasy’s view on the Robbie Dunne Appeal Board


8 March: The Chair of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), Annamarie Phelps CBE, has announced that she will not be seeking a second term in the role and will be stepping down from the BHA Board when her term ends at the end of May.

In recent months the BHA has seen a number of senior personnel leave the organisation and the role of the BHA is currently being reviewed by its stakeholders.

Current Independent Non-Executive Director Joe Saumarez Smith, whose term on the BHA Board concludes in September 2023, will take on the position of Chair following the conclusion of Annamarie’s term, for the remainder of his term.

Annamarie Phelps said:

“Following discussions with the Board of the BHA I have decided not to extend my time as BHA Chair beyond the end of the current term.

“This is a very important time for racing, with the recovery from the pandemic and the imminent publication of the Gambling Act Review White Paper both still very much on the sport’s agenda. A significant review of the BHA is also underway, which will ensure that the BHA is future-proofed, efficient and has sufficient resource to serve racing’s needs.

“We are at a key stage of discussions around a new governance structure that will provide clarity on the BHA’s role as governing body and regulator.

“I am therefore delighted that I have been able to develop the following core principles with the BHA shareholders prior to my departure:

“Firstly, recognition that the BHA Board will maintain responsibility for both regulation and governance matters with an additional responsibility for leading the strategy for industry growth on behalf of our shareholders. That it will retain the same level of independent representation as at present, in line with governance best practice. Alongside this, we have agreed that the tripartite decision-making structure will be reviewed.

“There is much to do over the next three months to ensure these measures are fully and firmly in place for my successor before I step down, which I hope will provide a more appropriate, democratic and effective decision-making structure for the future.

“It has been a great privilege to lead the BHA during this challenging period for the sports sector, and to have recruited a fantastic CEO in Julie Harrington. I am immensely proud of what racing has achieved collectively in this time.

“I want to thank the amazing BHA team for navigating the pandemic and for keeping the show on the road behind the scenes, a role that is rarely acknowledged. It is a remarkable achievement that no fixtures were lost to Covid once British racing had become the first major sport to resume following the initial 2020 lockdown.

“We have also dealt successfully with some serious and complicated ethical and integrity matters that have set important precedents for the future, laid the foundations for greater diversity and inclusion across the sport, enhanced the industry’s educational resources and safeguarding provisions and further increased our focus on the welfare of our horses and our people; all of which are essential to the sustainable health and prosperity of racing.

“I want to thank all those who have welcomed and supported me over the last three years, in particular those racecourses, trainers, owners, jockeys, stable staff and breeders who have shared their insight, aspirations and opinion, both here and overseas. I have loved the people, the racing and especially the horses.”

Joe Saumarez Smith said:

“On behalf of the BHA Board, I would like to express my thanks to Annamarie, who has brought a broad perspective from other sports to the BHA Board table. During her time as Chair, she has laid the groundwork for significant change across the industry in a number of areas, and helped us navigate a series of challenging issues, not least the coronavirus pandemic and the BHA’s own governance. The agreement of a number of core governance principles is potentially a defining moment for the industry. I look forward to continuing to work with Annamarie until the conclusion of her term.”


7 March: Bookmaker Mansion Bet has announced that it is closing on 31 March. The business will concentrate on its gaming operations. The company has issued the following FAQs on its website:

Mansion Group have decided to focus on our award-winning casino brands,, and and continue to operate in the UK online casino market. There are other markets such as Spain, where we are operating with, and Canada where we are in the process of applying for a license for their flagship brand, in the soon to be regulated Ontario market.

All winning bets will be credited as normal up until 31 March 2022. Any open bets that conclude as winners after the closing date, when bet slips become unavailable on site, will be honoured and paid out in full until Friday 28 April 2023. If you have an open bet based on an event that occurs after 28 April 2023, your stake will be returned.

Please note that any unused Free Bets or bonus funds in your account must be redeemed before the closing date, at which point they will be forfeited.

You can withdraw your funds using any of the methods that were used to make an initial deposit or bank transfer via the withdrawals page. Please ensure that all your details are correct before making your withdrawal.
In some circumstances, verification may be requested in order to confirm your identity. In the unlikely situation where you request a withdrawal of funds from your MansionBet account before completing account verification, you will be required to verify your ID before a withdrawal can be processed.
Please note that during this period of time, where we may see an influx of requests, your withdrawal may take longer than usual.

You will continue to have access to your account up until the date of closure, Thursday 31 March.
All withdrawals will be processed as normal up until the closing date and can be made on the MansionBet website. For any withdrawals after this date, please see the below.

If you could not request a withdrawal before the date of closure, the website will remain open for withdrawals up until Thursday 28 April 2022.
After this date, you can still request a withdrawal from our Customer Support team up until Friday 28 April 2023.
To do this, you will be required to send an email to, detailing your account details which we can then use to process your withdrawal.
Any outstanding balances that aren’t claimed by then will be transferred to a responsible gambling related charity.

We will keep any data for 5 years after Thursday 31 March.

The announcement by Mansion Bet, whose ambassador is Hayley Turner and they sponsored a number of races, follows last week’s announcement that Novibet were quitting the UK market.


7 March: The 3lbs Covid allowance is be replaced with an across-the-board 2lbs rise in published weights, but the current 3lb back protector allowance is to rise a general 4lbs safety allowance for jockeys.

The changes, which come into effect for races staged from Monday 2 May 2022, have been confirmed by the BHA after further discussions with the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA), National Trainers Federation (NTF), and a number of Flat and Jump jockeys.

The rise in published weights and the introduction of a 4lb safety allowance means that horses will continue to carry the same weights that they have been carrying since the COVID allowance was introduced as an emergency measure in June 2020.

The weights published in race cards, however, will increase by 2lbs, providing the racing public with more accurate information about the weights being carried by horses.

The 1lb safety allowance will be added to the longstanding 3lbs allowance that compensates for the weight of a jockey’s back protector. This increased 4lbs safety allowance aims to assist jockeys with managing the natural daily variations in their body weight and supporting their physical and mental well-being.

Work will also take place to ensure increased transparency for customers around the existence of the 4lbs safety allowance.

The 2lbs weights rise will impact all runners in nearly all races. The only exception will be in a small number of Pattern races, particularly over Jumps, where there would be no obvious reason to apply the 2lb weights rise. This includes races such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup where the published weight for runners is already 11st 10lb, and there would be no benefits of increasing the published weight to 11st 12lb.

The BHA’s racing department will review race conditions in novice weight-for-age events, particularly over Jumps, with a view to managing the weights carried by young horses running under a penalty.

Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer of the BHA, said:

“I would like to thank the many people from within the weighing room who have spoken with us in recent weeks. This process has allowed us to consider further concerns which did not feature as part of the initial consultation.

“During these discussions, riders have stressed the psychological benefits that the COVID allowance provided in terms of allowing them to manage the natural fluctuations in their body weight that occur from day-to-day. Many have stated that retaining at least some of this flexibility is as important for their well-being as any rise in the weights.

“We also recognise, however, that the decision to introduce a temporary COVID allowance has had a number of other consequences. Customers rightly expect transparency and accurate information, and the allowance has meant that horses have been carrying nearly half a stone more than the weights published in race cards and what is recorded in historical records.

“Whilst there is an allowance for the jockey’s body protector in most other major racing nations, including Ireland and France, we are concerned that the COVID allowance has created a much greater discrepancy between published weights and what horses are actually carrying in Britain compared with elsewhere.

“In reaching this solution, we have sought to balance all of these considerations with horses continuing to carry what they have been carrying since June 2020. Raising the published weights as well as publicising the existence of the safety allowance means the public will be better informed and have a more accurate understanding of what horses are carrying. The extra 1lb safety allowance will also provide riders with some flexibility to manage daily variations in their body weight.

“We are grateful to the NTF for their ongoing participation in these discussions, and for their acceptance of a revision to the original, agreed outcome from the consultation. A point of concern raised by trainers has been in relation to the weights carried by horses running under a penalty in novice events, particularly over Jumps, and the BHA’s racing team will be reviewing the conditions of these races with a view to managing such concerns.

“Finally, the welfare of our riders is very much a key priority, and we will continue to work with the PJA and its members to support the well-being of jockeys. Upgrades to weighing rooms as part of a long-term programme of improvement works to modernise facilities across all British racecourses have already been announced and, in addition, the issue of race weights will remain under regular review.”


22 Februry: Champion jockey Oisin Murphy cannot reapply for his licence for 11 months, backdated to 8 December, when he surrendered his licence to seek medical help, for breaking Covid protocols. He is banned for a further 100 days for breach of alcohol rules. He was also fined £31,111. The decision followed a BHA Independent Disciplinary Panel which heard the following allegations made against Murphy, which he did not contest:

Oisin Murphy

  • misleading or attempting to mislead the BHA or one of its employees regarding the destination of his travel in order to circumvent Covid restrictions
  • failing to comply with the BHA’s COVID-19 requirements – misleading BHA Officials by deliberately providing incorrect information to access racecourses and/or – entering racecourses whilst failing to comply with Government requirements and Racecourse Terms of Condition
  • acting in a manner which is prejudicial to the proper integrity, conduct and good reputation of the sport
  • presence of alcohol above the threshold level of 54 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine in a sample at Chester racecourse on 5 May 2021
  • presence of alcohol above the threshold level of 32 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath in a sample collected at Newmarket Racecourse on 8 October 2021

Following the conclusion of the hearing involving jockey Oisin Murphy in front of an independent Disciplinary Panel, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) issued the below statement.


A combined 11 month period of ineligibility to apply for a licence to be served concurrently, and backdated to 8 December when Mr Murphy handed in his jockey’s licence together with a fine of £31,111.

10 further days ineligibility for the offence on 5 May plus a further 90 days ineligibility for the offence on 8 October, to be served consecutively.

The overall result of these penalties is that Mr Murphy will be ineligible to apply for a jockey’s licence until 16 February 2023.

BHA statement

“We would like to thank the independent Disciplinary Panel for their careful consideration of the various complex and unique matters which were covered at this hearing.

“Mr Murphy’s breaches of the Rules were extremely serious, reckless and potentially incredibly damaging for the sport. They risked endangering his fellow jockeys and racing industry participants.

“The BHA is proud of the way the industry adapted to the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and how racing was able to restart quickly and successfully behind closed doors. Mr Murphy’s actions put this at risk. They also occurred at a time when so many people were making great sacrifices to follow the rules and protocols set out by the British Governments and the racing industry.

“Mr Murphy also acted with pre-meditation to deceive the racing industry and public regarding his whereabouts, as well as BHA investigators.

“In their summing up, the independent Panel stated that Mr Murphy’s conduct was unworthy of a sportsman and previous champion, and he had let down his colleagues and the sport.

“We would, however, also acknowledge that Mr Murphy later made full, public admissions regarding these offences, and did not seek to contest the rule breaches at today’s hearing. He also gave full and frank admissions regarding his personal battles.

“All of these matters were considered by the independent Panel in their decisions regarding a penalty for Mr Murphy.

“While it is important that this penalty is served and Mr Murphy’s offences are seen to be acted upon, we would also call on everyone in the sport to respect the admissions that he has made about his physical and mental wellbeing and his need for rehabilitation. The BHA will offer any support that Mr Murphy requests in this ongoing process.

“As with many elite sportspeople, the pressures on jockeys can be significant. We would urge anyone in the racing industry who has suffered from any of the issues outlined by Mr Murphy in the hearing, or who knows of anyone who is struggling, to contact the various support structures that are in place in British racing. These include Racing Welfare, representative bodies such as the PJA, NTF and NARS, the sport’s anonymous RaceWISE reporting line, or the BHA.”


21 February: Paddy Trainor of Johnston Racing has been crowned employee the 2022 Employee of the Year at the conclusion of the Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awardw.

Paddy will receive a £10,000 prize for himself, as well as a further £10,000 to be shared among their colleagues at Johnston Racing and the perpetual Godolphin Trophy.

Earlier in the evening Paddy had won the Rider/Groom Award, which itself carried prize-money of £5,000 for himself and the same again for the yard, meaning Johnston Racing and Paddy each went home with £15,000 in prize-money from the ceremony.

Paddy, a familiar face for any regular racegoer in Britain, has worked for Johnston Racing for 23 years and left an indelible mark on Britain’s winningmost operation. Recently qualified as an Industry Coach, he works tirelessly to help those less experienced to develop their skills and improve their knowledge of horse welfare. He is a constant source of encouragement for younger members of staff and keeps up enthusiasm and morale with his larger-than-life character and outlook on life.

The combined £30,000 claimed by Paddy was part of prize-money totalling £128,500, offered by sponsors Godolphin, distributed during a memorable evening, with the awards organised by the British Horseracing Authority in conjunction with media partners Racing Post and Racing TV.

The full list of winners (in red) and finalists is as follows:

David Nicholson Newcomer

Ella Garland – Nick Gifford Racing

Elouise O’Hart – Ed Walker

Debbie Brodie – Godolphin Management Co. Ltd.


Timothy Hogg – Jedd O’Keefe Racing Ltd.

Tom Messenger – Dan Skelton

Jack Steels – Ed Walker


Paddy Trainor – Johnston Racing Ltd

Christina Berry – Grace Harris

John Nicholson – Johnston Racing Ltd

Stud Staff

Balazs Karoly Sipos – Hascombe and Valiant Stud

Dulcie West – North Farm Stud

Richard Heayns-Corrick – Chapel Stud


Volodymyr (Vova) Stepanyuk – Nick Gifford Racing

Alyson West – James Ferguson

Simon Olley – Philip Kirby

Community (In recognition of the wonderful work Rory MacDonald achieved at The British Racing School)

Andrew Braithwaite – The British Racing School

Freedom Zampaladus – Urban Equestrian Academy

Kevin and Pam Atkinson – New Beginnings


10 February: The BHA has set out its response to the ruling in December of the High Court in favour of Freddy Tylicki, which was brought following catastrophic injuries he suffered in a fall at Kempton Park in October 2016.

Following the judge’s ruling, the BHA obtained transcripts of the proceedings, which have been reviewed in detail, and held discussions with industry stakeholders in order to consider what implications there may be for the sport as a result of the judgment.


Due to the significant reforms of British racing’s stewarding model and processes which have taken place since 2016, the BHA is satisfied that the High Court has not identified any further actions that must be taken as a result of this ruling beyond those which have already taken place or are already committed to. The reforms since 2016 have included:

  • Mandatory competency-based training, developed externally in collaboration with legal training experts, has been introduced for all stewards
  • State-of-the-art technology introduced on course that allows for more enhanced analysis of races
  • Updated guidance provided to stewards as part of the competency-based training on enquiry procedure, and specifically regarding the adjournment of enquiries where material witnesses are unable to be present.

Work is already underway, following the adoption of the new Rules of Racing in 2019, to review British racing’s sanctions framework and guidance. This work will address the full range of sanctions, including those for interference, and discussions with stakeholders have already begun on this process.

During the hearing, it was suggested that there exists an informal code of conduct, whereby jockeys do not “get too involved or [say] too much… try to stay as neutral as possible” when giving evidence to stewards following a race.

Evidence given by Jockeys during enquiries is just one piece of the evidence stewards are required to carefully consider and weigh against all other evidential material.

Experienced and trained Stewards objectively undertake this task and make decisions based on the required standard at every fixture every day.

The BHA is committed to furthering the professional development of all stewards in line with international best practice, enabling them to develop the skills required to hear, test, interrogate where appropriate, and balance all evidence given in enquiries.

Further implications

Away from stewarding, it is considered thatthere could be implications for jockeys’ insurance arising from this ruling, something the BHA and PJA have met to discuss.

The BHA has committed to supporting the PJA in whatever way necessary in their discussions with their insurer, in particular by providing whatever material they may need to demonstrate the level of risk mitigation that is now in place in British racing. It is essential for all sectors of our sport that jockeys are provided with adequate cover to allow them to compete.

Such risk mitigation includes the introduction of saliva testing in 2021, whereby oral swabs are used to provide on-the-day screening for cocaine and a range of other banned substances at racecourses. Over 900 saliva samples were taken in 2021.

Saliva testing is designed to be used in addition to breath and urine testing, which is capable of detecting a broad range of substances. Raceday saliva and breath tests act as a preliminary screen, and any jockey who does not test negative on raceday is stood down from riding that day, as well as being subject to further investigation.

Funding has also been made available by the Levy Board for hair sampling to become a mandatory element of any jockey’s licensing process in the future, as part of a widening of the matrices used to test for prohibited substances.

The BHA would like to thank all of those who have contributed to discussions on the topic of this ruling in the last month and would also like to place on record once again its very best wishes for the future for Freddy Tylicki and his family.


25 January: The  permanent raising of the minimum and maximum riding weights for jockeys on the Flat and over Jumps is to be introduced at the beginning of the new season for each code:

  • Minimum Flat weight raised to 8st 2lbs, with minimum Jump weight up to 10st 2lbs
  • General weight increase of 2lb to be introduced for most race categories, replacing COVID-19 allowance
  • Publication of raised weights to provide increased transparency for followers and bettors
  • Change follows the permanent removal of saunas from weighing rooms to improve jockey welfare
  • Chief Medical Advisor to lead work on introduction of individual minimum weights for jockeys

From Saturday 26 March 2022, the minimum weight carried in Flat races will increase from 8st to 8st 2lbs, while from Friday 29 April 2022, the minimum weight carried in Jump races will increase from 10st to 10st 2lbs.

In order to avoid any compression of the weight structure, which in turn would reduce the competitiveness of British racing, maximum weights will increase in line with the rise at the bottom end.

Therefore, from the same dates, the standard top weight on the Flat will increase from 10st to 10st 2lbs, and from 11st 12lbs to 12st over Jumps.

The general increase of 2lbs in the published weights, agreed by the industry’s Racing Group and ratified by the BHA Board, replaces the 3lbs COVID allowance, introduced during the resumption of racing to support jockeys when use of racecourse saunas was not permitted.

It follows extensive discussion between the BHA, jockey and trainer representatives about future weight structures, with a general consensus that the 2lbs rise be introduced following the permanent closure of racecourse saunas.

The 3lbs COVID allowance will remain in place until the revised weights structure is implemented.

A 3lbs allowance for safety equipment, introduced following the requirement to wear a Level 2 body protector, will remain in place, as will a further 1lb allowance for all Flat jockeys during the winter months to account for an extra layer of warming clothing, a provision that has been in operation since 2013.


20 January: Gina Mangan has been handed a 24-day ban for multiple breaches of the whip rules following a disciplinary panel hearing.  The 29-year-old-jockey had broken the rules on one ride in every 16 during a six-month period.

The hearing came about after a race at Lingfield when Mangan won on the David Evans-trained Midgetonamission, but she was found to have used her whip 10 times in the final furlong and a half, three more than the permitted level of seven in a Flat race.

Because it was her fifth breach of the whip rules warranting a ban of between two and six days, the raceday stewards referred her to the sport’s independent disciplinary panel.

Presenting the case for the BHA, Lyn Williams, informed the panel that Mangan had 79 rides in the six-month period, which amounted to one breach every 16 rides, but that the actual period of time for the five offences to occur was over five months and 27 days and she had not been previously referred for her use of the whip.

Panel chair, Brian Barker QC, said it was a “shame” that on occasions Mangan seemed to “lose her head slightly” when riding.


6 January: The actions of jockey Robbie Dunne towards fellow rider Bryony Frost have been described as having “dark implications” by the disciplinary panel who banned Dunne for 18 months after arriving at a guilty verdict following a case prosecuted by the BHA.

In their findings the panel said: 

“This was deliberate, unwarranted targeting of a colleague over a considerable time. Mr Dunne’s words, and behaviour, were wholly inappropriate for a professional athlete in an equal opportunity sport and would not be tolerated in any other walk of life or workplace.

“Expletives in the heat of the moment are one thing, but expressions such as “I am going to hurt you” and/or “I’ll put you through a wing” have dark implications. The context of this case moved the effect beyond that of mere words.

“There was little, if any, indication of Mr Dunne’s understanding. There was no expression of remorse. The defence involved calculated attacks in various directions. The plea entered was so limited by comparison to the conduct found that it attracted neither credit nor reduction.

“We took into account matters submitted in mitigation and the evidence of Mr Dunne’s character witness.  We reminded ourselves, in his favour, that some at least of the facts found involved Mr Dunne operating within a culture approbated by his peers.

“Observers observed without intervention. If this is the weighing room culture, then it is out of step in equal opportunity race-riding. We were scrupulous to avoid treating Mr Dunne as the sole individual finding the impugned behaviour acceptable.

“A financial penalty was wholly insufficient to meet the justice of this case. Suspension of licence was inevitable.  The matters proved were consecutive, occurred over six months, as time went by deepening in spitefulness, and consequently the words and acts achieving the increasingly chilling effect upon the victim which Mr Dunne intended.

“As well as falling foul of the regulations as pleaded, such behaviour, from someone who presented himself as one of the elders of the sport, setting standards and allegedly offering wise counsel to junior jockeys was hypocritical.

“The events at Southwell were the gravest.  The proper approach was to fix a cumulative period and to impose it concurrently for each offence.

“Given the context, the entry point in the Guide to Penalties and Procedures did not bear on this case. Whatever the pressures and dangers of racing, and whatever the traditions of the weighing room, Mr Dunne’s conduct had no place in it.

‘The strikingly aggravating feature was the determined consistency, in the knowledge that Ms Frost could not prepare herself for what would come next, as she was unable to predict what or where it would be.

“Mr Dunne’s licence as a jockey will be suspended for 18 months.  However, taking into account some of the personal matters urged, the final three months will be suspended for two months.

“Any transgressions in months 16 to 18 would make it most likely that the three months would be activated. Mr Dunne is suspended from 10 December 2021 until 9 March 2023 inclusive.”

The Panel for the Enquiry was: HH Brian Barker CBE QC, HH James O’Mahony and Alison Royston, and a transcript of the hearing can be found here


2 January: Trainer Dan Skelton has been charged by the BHA with a code-of-conduct breach relating to the sale of a horse to a syndicate who made a formal complaint over three years ago in relation to the sale.

The Sunday Times reports today that the case will now go before an independent disciplinary panel where Skelton can explain his role in the sale of a horse called George Gently in October 2016.

The five owners of George Gently, who paid £130,000 for the horse, said they found out 18 months after the sale that Skelton (pictured)  a beneficial interest in the horse which he did not declare when encouraging them to buy it.

Subsequent to the sale, the horse was found to have a serious tendon injury and a year later it was sold for £1,800.

The syndicate then said they had been told by George Gently’s previous owner, Dave Futter, that Skelton had been a one-third owner at the time of the sale.

Skelton denies this and Futter has since denied telling the syndicate that Skelton owned the one-third share.

In the Sunday Times piece by chief sports writer David Walsh, Skelton is reported has having provided the syndicate with an invoice showing that he had received £42,033 from Futter and that this payment had been in lieu of training fees.

As the amount was exactly one third of £130,000 less commissions, the syndicate did not accept Skelton’s explanation. They moved their six horses from his yard, and lodged the formal complaint with the BHA.


1 January: In its second year, the six Racing League Thursday evening fixtures are to be broadcast on ITV4.

Niall Sloane, ITV director of sport, said: “We look forward to working with the team and the participating racecourses across the summer to help widen the appeal of the competition in its second year.”

The Racing League had an average TV audience in its inaugural year of 62,000 on Sky Sports Racing.

Jeremy Wray, chief executive of the Racing League, said: “We are delighted to confirm this broadcast agreement with ITV Racing to bring the Racing League live to terrestrial television, which we see as an excellent next step for the competition.”

The first of the six fixtures takes place at Doncaster on 4 August 4 – a later start than in 2021 – with Newcastle, Windsor, Lingfield and, for the first time, Southwell staging the races for the competition which offers 2m in prize money and other incentives.


24 December: Seven Grade 1s take place over four days at Leopardstown starting on Sunday but sadly no spectators will be there to see them after a late decision from the track, writes Danny Scutchings.

A crowd of 5,000 was expected to attend each day but rising Covid cases in Ireland and among the course staff left officials with no choice but to stage the festival behind closed doors.

Industry personnel, owners and Leopardstown members will be allowed to watch but the courses chief executive said today that in the last 24 hours it had become increasingly clear that it would be impossible for anyone else to attend.

At the end of last week the Irish government announced a 5,000 limit or 50% of stadium capacity would be Introduced to all sporting events until 30 January.

Leopardstown were already having to use staff from other courses to combat their outbreak and allow the meeting to go ahead in a scaled back format but unfortunately the decision seems to have been inevitable.

Limerick also has a four-day festival beginning on Sunday and as of now they still expect 5,000 to attend each day and hopefully that will still happen.


21 December: Freddy Tylicki has won his claim High Court claim against Graham Gibbons over a fall at Kempton in 2016 that left him paralysed.

Judge Karen Walden-Smith issued her judgement at 2pm, declaring: “The actions of Mr Gibbons were … undertaken in reckless disregard for the safety of Mr Tylicki.”

Tylicki said in a statement issued by his lawyers that he was “delighted”.

“It has taken five years for me and my legal team to overcome the injustice of the stewards’ inquiry which took place at Kempton immediately after the race,” the former jockey said.

“Today’s result has finally provided me with closure and I look forward to putting this all behind me and moving on with my life. I hope though that this judgement acts as a reminder that competing in a dangerous sport like horseracing is no justification for competing with a reckless disregard for the safety of your fellow competitors.”

It has yet to be determined what will have to be paid by way of compensation.


17 December: Having been made aware of a possible breach by Oisin Murphy of coronavirus protocols relating to travel in September 2020, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) conducted a detailed investigation.

Following the conclusion of this process, the BHA issued the following alleged charges:

  • Breaches of Rule (J)24.6 of the Rules of Racing for misleading or attempting to mislead the BHA regarding his true location between 9 and 12 September;
  • Breaches of Rules (J)24.4 and (J)24.6 for accessing the racecourse in breach of the COVID-19 Requirements;
  • Breaches of Rule (J)19 for acting in a manner prejudicial to the proper conduct and good reputation of horseracing.

A hearing in front of an independent Disciplinary Panel to consider these charges was arranged for Friday 10 December.

Prior to the hearing the BHA received submissions from Mr Murphy’s legal team regarding his welfare, which were supported by medical evidence, and stated that Mr Murphy had made a decision to relinquish his Flat Jockeys Licence whilst he engages fully with medical support.

Bearing these submissions in mind, it was agreed with Mr Murphy’s representatives that the proposed hearing would be postponed to take place at a later date, when it is deemed appropriate considering the welfare of Mr Murphy.

These matters will also be heard at the same time as two cases regarding positive tests for alcohol returned from racecourses in 2021 by Mr Murphy, as follows:

  • Breach of Rule (K)55 due to the presence of alcohol in urine sample exceeding permitted threshold at Chester racecourse on 5 May 2021:
  • Breach of Rule (K)55 due to presence of alcohol in breath samples exceeding permitted threshold at Newmarket on 8 October 2021.

Tim Naylor, BHA Director of Integrity and Regulation, said:

“In regulating the sport we must always strike the balance between the importance of upholding the rules, and being mindful of the wellbeing of those who we regulate. The welfare of our participants is an absolute priority.

“Having received detailed submissions from his representatives, which were supported by medical evidence, and being aware of the decision made by Mr Murphy to relinquish his jockeys licence, we agreed that the proposed disciplinary hearing may be postponed for a short period of time.

“The charges will be considered in front of an independent Disciplinary Panel we anticipate in the early part of 2022. We will support his medical team in the meantime.”

Mr Murphy has asked that the following statement be relayed on his behalf:

“On returning from abroad last September in 2020 I failed to follow the Covid protocol set out by the BHA. In breaking these rules, and attempting to mislead the BHA, I’ve let my governing body down, along with trainers, owners, staff, sponsors and family for which I wish to apologise. 

“In addition to this there have been two racecourse incidents linked to alcohol during 2021.  It became obvious to me and to everyone else that I needed to seek serious help. In recognition of this I have relinquished my licence and will now focus on my rehabilitation. I am grateful to the BHA for agreeing to postpone the disciplinary hearing until I have been able to take these steps.

“Whether I deserve it or not, many kind people have stood by me and I really appreciate their support . I’m deeply embarrassed and regret my actions.”

The BHA and Mr Murphy will not make any further comment on this matter, which remains an ongoing disciplinary process, until a hearing date is set.


16 December: Tom Dascombe is leaving Michael Owen’s Manor House Stables in Cheshire after a 12-year stint. Dascombe was advised of his exit today which he described as a “complete shock”.

Owen posted a statement on his Twitter account, saying: “After more than 12 years as trainer, Tom Dascombe will be leaving Manor House Stables in the new year.

“We have shared many great times and races together and created memories that will last a lifetime.

“I would like to place on record my own personal thanks for all his hard work and support over the years. We part on great terms and everyone at MHS will miss him and wishes him the very best for the future.”

Dascombe’s biggest success came through Brown Panther, who won the Irish St Leger in 2014 and was victorious at Royal Ascot. Other notable horse he trained rh sprinter Kachy and  Angel Alexander who won the Ayr Gold Cup.

Earlier today Dascombe, 48, saddled Skittlebomz to victory in a six-furlong nursery at Southwell  just hours after the his departure became public.

Dascombe said: “I only found out two days ago. I told my family yesterday. I told my staff this morning.

“I have absolutely no plans – I have no idea what I am going to do next, but I will be training next year from somewhere and we will train winners like we have just done there (at Southwell).

“It is as simple as that – life goes on.

“The fact that they don’t want me to be here any more, that’s their choice – it is not mine.”


9 December: Jockey Robbie Dunne has been found in breach of all four charges of conduct prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of racing by a disciplinary panel. These include bullying and harassing Bryony Frost (pictured).

The independent panel has handed out an 18 month ban of which the last three months have been suspended.

Dunne could have faced a ban of up to three years.

The panel found that Dunne’s behaviour towards Frost between 13 February and 3 September 2020, which culminated in him telling her he would “put you through a wing”, was a promise to do harm and amounted to bullying, the most serious of the charges brought against him by the BHA.

Brian Barker QC, the chair of the three-person independent panel, said: “We have real concern the weighing room culture is deep rooted and coercive and is not conducive to the good health and development of race-riding.”

Barker went on to say: “We are unable to accept Mr Dunne’s sweep of denials, criticisms and his reasoning. A man, who in the view of one of his own witnesses was a ‘piss taker’, and who regarded himself as one of the elders of the weighing room and someone who expected his view to be heeded.

“The tenor and type of language that we find was used towards Ms Frost is totally unacceptable, whatever the frustrations about her style and whatever the habits of the weighing room. They fall squarely within the ambit of the prohibition set out in the rule.

“Secondly, in reviewing the evidence given and their approach by jockeys of repute as well as by the valets – who probably find themselves in a difficult position – we have real concern that what was referred to by Mr Weston as the ‘weighing room culture’ is deep-rooted and coercive, and in itself is not conducive to the good health and the development of of modern day race riding.”

“On examination of Ms Frost’s evidence and demeanour,” he said, “we find her to be truthful, careful and compelling. By taking her complaint to the [BHA] she has broken ‘the code’, knowing that isolation and rejection by some was inevitable.”

BHA Statement

After the panel’s verdict, the BHA issued the following statement:

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) welcomes the finding of the independent Disciplinary Panel that jockey Robbie Dunne is in breach of four counts of Rule (J)19 and to impose an 18 month suspension upon him.

In our view this decision, and the comments of the independent Judicial Panel, reflect the seriousness of the accusations. It sends a clear message that conduct of this nature cannot be tolerated in any working environment within our sport.

This case has been a ground-breaking one for British racing, the first of its kind, and it is important that it acts as a catalyst for further change within the industry. 

We understand that, for the vast majority of those who work in the sport – and in particular in the jockeys’ weighing room – it is a positive, supportive, welcoming place. We recognise the pressures on those involved in the sport, and that temperatures will at times be raised.

However, there is a line as to what is acceptable. It is essential that when something does go wrong that people feel that they can call out bad behaviour, and not be made to suffer in silence. The independent Judicial Panel Chair voiced concerns regarding these issues in his judgement. We call on everyone in the industry to recognise this.  

By stepping forward to report the behaviour of which she was on the receiving end, Bryony Frost took a courageous step. We hope that others who may be in similar positions will feel comfortable doing the same.  

Improving workplace standards and wellbeing within the sport is an issue into which racing has invested significant time and resource in recent years. Nothing is more important than our people and our horses. The formation of an industry People Board has helped focus attention on improving standards, education and training. Progress is being made on improving the facilities that our athletes use, in particular our female participants. The sport will soon be putting in place a collaborative, cross-industry Code of Conduct.

However, more can always be done. We must move forward from this case and define the sort of language and conduct that is acceptable in a place of work. This is about more than just the jockeys’ weighing room, but the whole industry. We must take positive steps across the sport to ensure that British racing is a welcoming place to work for everyone. We will issue more detail as to our next steps on this front in the near future. 

This was a difficult, sensitive and complex case, with numerous witnesses. Charges for the case were lodged in April, but subsequent to this there were significant legal representations made by the defence solicitors, which – in order to ensure fairness to all parties – had to be considered in full. The case has been handled with professionalism, and this is reflected in the outcome. 

However, there are also lessons that can, and will, be learned. We will be reviewing the proceedings and speaking to the Chair of the Independent Judicial Panel regarding case management. It is important that we ensure that future cases are managed quickly, in the interests of all parties. 

Finally, we recognise that this has been a difficult period for all involved, in particular for Robbie Dunne and Bryony Frost. We ask that the privacy and wellbeing of both is now respected. It is important that both are now supported by the BHA, their colleagues and their representative body the PJA.

PJA statement

Following the conclusion of disciplinary proceedings heard by the BHA Disciplinary Panel, Robbie Dunne has been found in breach of all charges and has been suspended for 18 months, three months of which are suspended.

Before the PJA responds to the Disciplinary Panel’s findings, we want to make it clear that the PJA has great sympathy with Bryony Frost and takes no issue with the fact that a complaint was taken to the BHA. Whilst the PJA was not involved nor was its support or advice sought before a complaint was taken to the BHA, the PJA has itself taken a separate complaint to the BHA on behalf of another jockey and supported that jockey throughout, so most certainly does not criticise Bryony for doing the same.

Bryony felt bullied, it certainly took courage to go through the process she has and we do not doubt the isolation she has felt. The PJA entirely accepts that Robbie Dunne’s conduct as found by the Disciplinary Panel fell well short of the standard the PJA expects.

All that said, the PJA does not accept the Disciplinary Panel’s findings in relation to the culture within and collective behaviour of the jump jockeys weighing room. It is a grossly inaccurate and wholly unfair representation of the weighing-room and a conclusion we believe is at odds with the evidence presented.

On October 25th of this year, in response to the leak of confidential case papers and the resulting coverage in the media, the PJA stated that in our view a fair hearing was impossible and called for the BHA to bring the matter to a close. Our fears have been realised and we do not believe Robbie Dunne has been subjected to a remotely fair process.

We did not call for the matter to be brought to a close to try and sweep the matter under the carpet. We did so because we were aware of the significant failings of the investigation, one that was woefully inadequate, lacked the necessary independence and allowed outside interference.

We were aware of significant inconsistencies in the evidence. We were aware that the BHA had enhanced the charges that were issued in April shortly before the hearing with no new evidence. We were aware there was a still to be concluded investigation into a serious data breach. Most importantly, the PJA and its Board had for some months lost confidence in the Disciplinary Panel due to a number of serious concerns including the long and striking track record of the Disciplinary Panel’s failure to ever criticise the BHA, its case management and its processes. The BHA and Disciplinary Panel have been aware of those concerns for some time.

Furthermore, the PJA and its members are appalled by the BHA’s characterisation of the weighing room culture as “rancid”, made via their advocate and therefore presumably under instruction. This and the BHA’s conduct throughout this process is incredibly damaging.

The BHA’s stance is made worse by the fact that for years the PJA and its female members have been raising concerns with the BHA about the inadequate facilities for female riders and for years the BHA did nothing. We say it is no coincidence that the BHA has only shown an interest in driving change over the last few months in light of this case.

The PJA does not condone bullying or the use of the type of language the Disciplinary Panel has concluded was used. Bullying and the use of such entirely inappropriate language cannot and will not be tolerated. This is clear from the Code of Conduct we introduced earlier this year and our members can be in no doubt that we expect them to behave in line with our Code of Conduct and to ensure their colleagues do too. We will be working with the RCA to ensure that this Code of Conduct is displayed prominently in every weighing room and changing room in the country.

Whilst we reject the wholesale criticism of the culture within the weighing room, everything is not perfect. There are lessons to be learnt for the PJA and its members and we recognise change is needed. This starts with creating facilities that do not require female jockeys to be in the male jockeys changing room in order to do their job but doesn’t stop there.

The life of a jockey is unrelentingly tough for the many reasons which are widely recognised. It is a particularly dangerous occupation where the risk of a fall and serious injury is ever present and safety is of the utmost importance. The PJA therefore accepts that the language used in the weighing room will not always be the language you would expect in an office. This is no different to what happens in the pressure cooker of any professional sport. However, it is vital all jockeys adhere to our Code of Conduct and are respectful of their colleagues, whether male or female.

We are continuing to implement our restructure of earlier this year, whereby we streamlined and brought new expertise to our Board, and created a Jockeys Advisory Group, for which individuals are still being recruited. These individuals will have enhanced responsibility and become our equivalent of team leaders in the weighing room. It is also vital that we develop a more formal relationship between Jockey Coaches and senior jockeys to ensure concerns or issues about an individual’s riding are dealt with in a timely but professional manner. We have already started conversations with the British Racing School, the managers of the Jockey Coaching programme, with a view to implementing this.

Statement from female jockey

The PJA has been asked to issue the following statement on behalf of a number of female jump jockeys in response to today’s decision by the BHA Disciplinary Panel in the case against Robbie Dunne. They have asked that their names are not added to the statement having seen the reaction towards anyone who has expressed such views.

“Firstly we would like to reassure everyone that, on the whole, our experiences within the weighing room have been overwhelmingly positive. We need not cover this again as many of our colleagues have spoken out about this and we feel we can relate to their experiences. The weighing room is our family and is a place we all will be very sad to leave once our careers are over.

“With regards to the hearing involving Robbie following a complaint about his conduct by Bryony, we are really disappointed with the way us and our male colleagues have all been portrayed by the BHA and subsequently reported in the media. From our understanding , what most people are upset about is why no one has spoken up to say they heard anything and why the weighing room “turned a blind eye” to bullying.

“We do not accept that our weighing room colleagues have not been truthful through the process. If anyone had evidence that could have been useful to either side, it is disappointing if they haven’t come forward but given the BHA’s handling of the matter and the public reaction to the case and anyone who has given evidence that wasn’t in line with the prosecution it is not necessarily surprising if that’s been the case.

“One thing to consider though is if anyone thinks they heard something but don’t know for sure what was said or genuinely cannot recall, how are they supposed to stand up and be cross examined when they don’t know exactly what happened? How is it fair to either side to speculate or make up a memory of what might have been said when evidence was collected so long after the event? Would people prefer us to lie and make up stuff to fit what they want to hear? We can only say our truth here!

“It is sad that whilst one woman is being praised for speaking her truth, the rest of us have been shamed for doing the same. At no point have we condoned what is alleged to have happened – we just haven’t been able to give any evidence to support it as we don’t have any. If anyone heard anything and has held on to it, they are letting the whole weighing room down and it would be hugely disappointing.

“One thing that this whole incident highlights is the need to expect better from one another. This is not just something within the weighing room or within the broader industry, it is across all walks of life. We would challenge anyone to stand up and say they have never said something to someone they regret or would love to take back. We have to take lessons from these occurrences, learn from them and move on.

“We have spent years trying to call on the BHA to take notice of us and they have failed us. We believe they have used the rest of the weighing room as scape goats to conceal the fact they have let female riders down despite ours and the PJA’s complaints. They failed to act when we pushed them on the substandard facilities and have only started to do so since this case went public.

“They have let both Bryony and Robbie down by taking so long to deal with this, leaving it festering in the air between colleagues and in the meantime being the ultimate cause of leaks it to the press. Finally, they have let us down by calling us and our male friends and colleagues liars and accusing us of turning a blind eye to bullying. You cannot turn a blind eye to something you have not seen.

“We really hope that it hasn’t put off further people seeking justice in the future as who could ever want to put themselves through this even though they have every right to? We are aware that the PJA has supported another of our colleagues in taking a complaint to the BHA but it is reassuring that negative experiences are not the norm and that we are not simply the “lucky ones”. We really hope that people can respect this point and understand that even though the weighing room isn’t perfect, this ‘rancid culture’ the BHA refers to is something totally unfamiliar to us.

“We have tried over the years to create a welcoming and supportive environment for young female jockeys to come in to, as much as can be possible considering the working conditions all jockeys are faced with as a result of BHA inaction. We can only say the same of the valets and male jockeys who have looked after us over the years too and we really hope this can continue.

“Times have and continue to change and there are some aspects of what has traditionally been the norm that need to change too. Now that our concerns over facilities are finally being heard and acted upon the weighing room will be changing too. Everyone understand the need for this but it doesn’t mean we need to be segregated entirely – none of us want that.

“This is our truth. We hope people can understand our views and not cut us down for speaking up and probably saying stuff that they don’t want to hear.”

♦ Bryony knows who her friends are – Mike Deasy’s Of Course column


8 December:  Spotlight Sports Group, which owns the Racing Post, has selected US bankers PJP Partners to handle the sale of the business.

Exponent Private Equity chose a US bank as interest is expected from American media operators as Spotlight has been expanding its presence in the States as gamblings has been legalised across the country.

More than two-thirds of Spotlight’s revenue comes from its online operations, with total income put at £65m in its latest report, a drop of nearly one-fifth with betting shop closures and Covid hitting print sales major contributors to the decline.

The sales is scheduled to get underway next year.


8 December: An expanded Sky Bet Sunday Series will return in 2022 with six meetings scheduled between May and August with total prize-money of £1.2 million.

York, Hamilton and Pontefract will be new racecourses to host the Series joining Musselburgh, Haydock and Sandown

The six seven-race Sunday cards will again have a twilight slot and be shown in their entirety on ITV4, with each of the fixtures worth £200,000.

The fixture dates are:

  • Hamilton  8 May
  • York 22 May
  • Musselburgh 5 June 
  • Pontefract 19June
  • Haydock 7 August 7
  • Sandown 21 August 21


The BHA has announced details of a new programme of hurdle races designed to help the development of Jump horses in Great Britain.

Named Junior National Hunt Development Hurdle Races and open exclusively to three-year-olds from October to December and four-year-olds from January to April, the races will be run from mid-October 2022 to the end of the 2022/23 Jump season.

They will be open to horses that have not previously competed in a Flat race, or a Jump race except for a NH Flat or Junior National Hunt Development Hurdle Race, and will carry the same status as NH Flat races and Point-To-Point races, in that winners will not be precluded from competing in novice hurdles during the following Jump season.

The introduction of Junior National Hunt Development Hurdle Races, for which a maximum of four starts will be permitted per-horse, follows consultation between the BHA and the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (TBA), and approval by the industry’s Racing Group.

Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer of the BHA, said: “By adding these races to next year’s programme, we’ll be able to gain a much better understanding of the impact of providing young jumping horses with the opportunity to start their careers at an earlier stage.

“Such an approach is already well established in France and to some extent as part of a vibrant point-to-point scene in Ireland, and we hope that owners and trainers in Britain will support the introduction of Junior ‘National Hunt’ Development Hurdle Races and view them as an ideal opportunity for the right sort of jumping horse.”

Bryan Mayoh, Chairman of the TBA National Hunt Committee, said: “We have long believed that differences in upbringing, rather than in breeding or environment, is the principal reason why French-bred Jump horses have outperformed those produced in Britain and Ireland.

“The impact that Irish four-year-old Point-to-Points are now having on the successes of Irish-trained horses supports the hypothesis that Jump horses need to be broken and taught to jump earlier than has been traditional in Britain.

“We hope that forward-looking trainers will welcome the programme of Junior National Hunt Development Hurdle Races, coming in Autumn 2022, and target the youngsters they have now, or might purchase next year, at these races.

“These horses will not only benefit from early education but also enjoy the prospect of winning over hurdles as three- or four-year-olds as an alternative to the NH Flat race route, hopefully followed by a fruitful campaign in novice hurdles the following season and successful careers thereafter.”