Hayley Turner handed three-month riding ban following 'huge mistake'

Thu 14 Dec 2017

Hayley Turner will "take on the chin" the three-month riding ban handed to her by the disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority after the opening of an internet betting account left her in breach of the rules governing betting by jockeys.

Britain's most successful female jockey officially retired from the saddle at the end of the 2015 turf season and after initially establishing a media career with At The Races and ITV Racing, Turner recently opted to return to race riding in France.

However, Turner's decision to open an online account following her initial retirement prompted a BHA inquiry as she technically still held a licence, leaving the rider in breach of the rules.

The suspension takes immediate effect, although Turner is not disqualified, meaning she can still visit and work on racecourses and other licensed premises.

She was said to be "absolutely devastated at her mistake" and "deeply embarrassed" by the situation when charges were announced earlier this month.

A contrite Turner, who will not appeal the punishment, said: "At the end of the day I made a huge mistake and have to suffer the penalty as I did break the rules.

"The problem was I saw myself as a television pundit rather than as a jockey, which explains as to why I started betting while working on ATR and on ITV.

"Three months is a long time and I do think it is quite harsh, especially as I have a mortgage to pay, but I have just got to take it on the chin."

Turner, who was awarded an OBE for services to horseracing last year, had been carving out a good living in France, taking full advantage of the fact all female jockeys riding there now receive a 4.4lb allowance in the saddle.

Jamie Stier, chief regulatory officer at the BHA, said: "It is a strict requirement under the rules of racing in Britain that licensed jockeys do not place bets on any races.

"It is simply not appropriate to the public's perception of the sport's integrity that those who are licensed to ride in races should be able to bet on the sport, even on races in which they are not participating. This is consistent with other major sports.

"The case was heard by an independent disciplinary panel who are responsible for determining the penalty.

"Hayley Turner has made a full admission and apology regarding the rules breaches she has committed, and the BHA's position was that it is appropriate that this should be considered mitigation when it comes to determining a penalty.

"The guideline entry point for an offence of this nature is an 18-month disqualification."

Paul Struthers, chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, said in a statement: "Hayley opened an account with Paddy Power after retiring from the saddle and placed recreational bets on horseracing.

"Whilst pursuing her second career as a broadcaster, Hayley made occasional returns to the saddle either for invitational events or in preparation for those occasional events and although she didn't bet whilst riding in those events, the fact she was licensed and betting recreationally on British horseracing placed her in breach of the Rules of Racing.

"She has therefore been suspended for three months for what amounts to technical breaches of the Rules of Racing. This is on the one hand both disappointing and disproportionate to the offences in question and is going to prove very costly to Hayley.

"However, she undoubtedly had a fair hearing, fully accepts responsibility for her unintended breaches of the Rules of Racing and accepts the punishment. Hayley understands that whilst her breaches were inadvertent it is an important Rule of Racing that requires a penalty that is a sufficient deterrent, even in innocent circumstances like hers."

Johnno Spence, Turner's commercial agent, said: "What is really important is the panel did not question her integrity as she was betting while having a licence, albeit for riding in exceptional circumstances. I think it is pretty harsh, but they had to do something.

"ITV and Matchbook have been loyal and supportive and we look forward to working with them in 2018.

"We are really appreciative of the support from her commercial partners in all of this."

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