Less than 24 hours ago I was contacted by the raceday secretary at Corbiewood to advise that Brywins Mayhem was not being allowed to race today (Sunday 25th October). Having purchased the horse at Builth Wells on Monday 19th October, Tony Allan had arranged for the horse to be transported back to Scotland by Rocker Laidler. However, this involved the horse stopping over in Co Durham before being delivered this morning prior to racing. In the interim, Tony entered the horse to race at Corbiewood today, with himself as the horse's trainer.
The story, as told to me initially, was that the BHRC had been tipped off that Rocker Laidler did not have the correct horses at the correct premises, following the ban imposed on Alexis' trainer's licence. As a result of this tip off, Roy Sheedy (BHRC Chairman) and Kirsty Lee (BHRC Secretary) visited Rocker's premises on Friday and scanned the microchips, whereby they came across Brywins Mayhem, who was supposed to be in the care of Tony Allan in Scotland. Fred Hay, BHRC Steward, resides in the vicinity of Corbiewood and subsequently paid a visit to Tony's stables yesterday (Saturday) to request to see Brywins Mayhem. Tony advised that the horse was due to be delivered by Rocker the following day. He was advised by Fred Hay that this was a breach of the rules and that the horse would not be allowed to race as it was not currently under his care, despite him claiming to be the trainer of the horse. Tony was requested to attend a meeting prior to racing to discuss the outcome of the matter.
It transpires that only elements of the above are true. Firstly, it is CORRECT that the BHRC were tipped off that Rocker and Alexis did not have the correct horses at the correct premises. It is CORRECT that Roy Sheedy visited the registered training premises of Brian Laidler and scanned the microchips of the horses there, and was satisfied that the correct horses were at the correct premises and had been for some time. It is INCORRECT that Brywins Mayhem was located at these premises, as he was in fact elsewhere. Based on this, I can only deduce that the BHRC were informed that Brywins Mayhem was not under the care of Tony Allan by somebody wishing to report Tony himself.
I agreed to attend the meeting with Tony in order to represent him, firstly as I had concerns over who would be present at the meeting (as this was a BHRC matter, only the Regional Steward and BHRC Steward would be entitled to be in the room; track stewards should not be concerned with the matter), and secondly because in the space of 20 minutes I was able to identify a further four cases of the exact same breach of the rules, for horses also entered to race at Corbiewood today. Tony explained that when the Regional Steward and Fred Hay had met with him to discuss the horse's whereabouts, they had not been interested in the details of these other examples of the rule breach.
Last night, once I had digested this information, I was furious. Once again this summer, I was about to witness the victimisation of a young licence holder and this time I was not going to allow it to happen without putting up a fight. I emailed Roy Sheedy, Jim McInally and the BHRC detailing the four other examples of the exact same rule breach, with the evidence that I had suggesting that they were not under the care of the individuals listed as their trainers.
This morning at 08:30, I received a call from Jim McInally to discuss the contents of my email. I was assured that this would be dealt with. At 10:30 I received notification from the raceday secretary that one of the four had been withdrawn from racing by the owner as a direct result of the investigation being carried out by the BHRC. I arrived at Corbiewood at 12:30 fully expecting to be attending a meeting with Tony Allan, Charles Inglis and Fred Hay. Naturally, the rumour mill was rife and the opinions of numerous non-licence holders were being broadcast, as well as some of the guilty parties trying to justify their dishonesty. I called Jim McInally and requested an update. I was advised that one of the four horses had been withdrawn from racing by the owner, and that the other three were under investigation by the BHRC and such investigations would be carried out by Fred Hay this afternoon at Corbiewood. When I asked if the remaining three horses would be allowed to race, I was advised that there is a 'grey area' whereby horses are allowed to run once in the previous owner's name once the BHRC are made aware that a horse has been sold. Arguably, two of the three horses would be in breach of this rule in racing today as they raced last week in the previous owners' names, and no transfers of ownership had been received by STAGBI as of Friday afternoon. I then received a call from Roy Sheedy who was in Ireland, and upon explaining the content of my email and the conversations with Jim, was advised that I 100% had the backing of Roy and his agreement that the rules MUST be applied across the board. He agreed that in stopping Brywins Mayhem from racing but allowing three other horses to race was tantamount to victimisation and would not reflect on the BHRC very well when they had been made aware of the other examples. He advised that should I need his support during the meeting, I was to contact him.
At 13:35, after the ballot for positions had been delayed, I asked Charles Inglis if Fred Hay was going to be in attendance and if we were indeed having a meeting. He advised that he would contact Fred immediately as I felt that racing could not proceed until the meeting had been held. That was the last that I saw of Charles Inglis until five minutes before I left the paddock office following the 'meeting'.
At 13:45 I was forced to speak to Ian Dawson, chief steward, to advise of my serious concerns. In the absence of the BHRC Steward and with the Regional Steward now MIA, I was left with no other option but to explain fully the circumstances to the chief steward, who was in agreement with me. A meeting was called in the office, to which I was not initially invited. I was cordially invited in to the meeting by another committee member, who had very little knowledge of the issue. Fred Hay finally arrived at approximately 13:55. During the meeting, at which there were 3 SHRC committee members, a BHRC Steward, the chief steward, 2 track stewards and a trainee track steward, I put forward the exact same case I had made in my email to the BHRC office, Jim and Roy.
Three horses were due to race at Corbiewood that were being trained by individuals that were not their listed trainers. In the event that one of those horses failed a dope test, who would be liable for the costs of a hearing and to serve any ban imposed? Fred Hay as a BHRC representative was unable to answer my questions. He advised me that the first that he had heard of this issue was at 10:00 this morning, which was not sufficient time for any action or investigation to take place. It was, however, enough time for Jim to look into one of the four which had resulted in a withdrawal. I was then asked why I had not brought this to the BHRC's attention sooner than at 'half one in the morning' (it was in fact just after midnight, and I do not appreciate the insinuation that I deliberately withheld information until an ungodly hour). I replied that we had ALL turned a blind eye to this endemic rule breach and would have continued to do so until the end of the season had someone not decided to grass on Tony Allan. I then asked him why he had chosen not to do anything about one of the examples considering he had walked past its stable every week that he attended Corbiewood to race, and had chosen to ignore its presence when investigating Tony the day before. He was unable to answer.
Despite my serious concerns, which were echoed somewhat by the chief steward and track stewards, I was advised that no official complaint had been received by the BHRC and therefore the three horses due to race would be allowed to race. Another individual in the room asked what all the fuss was about considering there was only a couple of weeks' racing left anyway. Yeah, why not, let's all just chuck the rulebook on the bonfire and go crazy next weekend. Who needs rules?
I had clearly advised that Roy Sheedy was in agreement with my proposed course of action. I made it clear that the decision made today lay with Fred Hay, which he accepted. As a BHRC Steward, he has willingly chosen to ignore an official complaint made to the BHRC by me and willingly failed to apply a rule to a number of individuals who are in breach of it after singling out one person to whom the rules apparently apply. No investigations into the three horses appear to have been made during the course of the afternoon.
I walked out of that office in absolute disbelief as to what I had just seen and heard. There is now, as clear as crystal, one rule for some and another rule for others. I will not waste my time trying to establish what the motives for this inconsistency in the application of the rules are. I have already seen first hand how offences and rule breaches are swept under the carpet if the face fits, whereas others are threatened with fines and licence suspensions for the same offences. None of this actually comes as a surprise to me. I cannot blame the track stewards for inconsistency in the application of the rules when the officials above them are equally as inconsistent. This is the example that they have been set.
I am bitterly disappointed in the outcome of today's meeting. I had no intention of throwing people under the bus; however, I was not going to allow Tony Allan to be made a scapegoat by certain individuals, when numerous others have been guilty of the exact same offence, and for much longer. I do not know where our chairman goes from here, when those in official positions underneath him go against his wishes simply because they can. The excuse that the BHRC office was not open today in order for investigations to be carried out is bullshit, because Brywins Mayhem was investigated yesterday. Last time I checked, the BHRC office wasn't open on a Saturday.
I was not born yesterday. I will not accept shoddy or incomplete answers, or downright dishonesty. As a dual licence holder, I am entitled to expect that the rules to which I adhere are the same for every other licence holder. Whilst this is not the case, I will not let this matter lie. I have advised Kirsty, Jim and Roy that I will be discussing this matter with them in person next Saturday at Wetherby. I was embarassed today when I left that office. Embarassed for those who made and agreed with the decision to allow those three horses to race.
Well done. For all the efforts I and others have made to get Scottish harness racing taken seriously on a national and international level, well done to those of you who have made us all a mockery.
Over and out,
#1 pretty pissed off groom