Friday, December 07, 2007


BBC NEWS | UK | Jockeys acquitted of race-fixing

I have no interest in horse racing whatsoever but it's very odd that Fallon got off after all the phone evidence...just shows what you can achieve with an expensive lawyer :

The joy of text


they are watching me

CONSPIRATORS running a multi-million pound race-fixing scam made a desperate bid to confront Kieren Fallon after he lost them £160,000.

The trip to the jockey's home in Cowlinge, near Newmarket, on May 26, 2004, led to a "sinister" encounter for a plain-clothes police officer who was monitoring the gang's movements, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

The incident unfolded 11 days after Fallon won a race which the prosecution allege he was supposed to lose.

Fallon, 42, fellow jockeys Darren Williams and Fergal Lynch, both 29; driver Shaun Lynch, 37; and barman Philip Sherkle, 42, all deny conspiracy to defraud.

Miles Rodgers, a professional gambler, also denies the charge as well as a charge of concealing the proceeds of crime.

The allegations revolve around 27 races between December 2002 and August 2004. It is alleged Fallon rode in 17 of these races and a total of £2.12 million was gambled on the races.

Fallon's mistake, when he rode Russian Rhythm to victory in a prestigious race at Newbury, led to Rodgers, the alleged ringleader of the conspiracy, losing a total of £160,256 he had laid on six Betfair accounts backing the horse to lose.

Jonathan Caplan, QC, prosecuting, said: "Rogers and the other conspirators were clearly expecting the horse to lose under Fallon, but things went wrong."

The loss of such a large sum, one of five occasions on which Fallon is alleged to have lost the conspiracy money, provoked an instant reaction.

On May 18, Shaun Lynch, the alleged middle-man between Rodgers and Fallon, was in phone contact with both men before driving with Rodgers from South Yorkshire to a Leicestershire racecourse where Fallon was riding.

Fallon was later seen travelling from the racecourse to an airport in Rodgers' car, the prosecution said.

On May 26 a far more dramatic incident occurred, Mr Caplan said, when Rodgers, Shaun Lynch, Sherkle and another man decided to confront Fallon at his home.

Sherkle and the fourth man, who has not been charged with any offence, booked themselves into the Bedford Lodge hotel in Newmarket under false names and with a false address, paying their bill in cash, the court heard.

That night at about 1am the four men set out for Cowlinge.

They drove on the unlit country roads in Rodgers' Mercedes car, observed by surveillance officers in an unmarked vehicle, but at some point they became spooked, Mr Caplan said, and drove up behind the police car with headlights on full beam, blocking it in for a minute before reversing away.

The plain-clothes officer drove into Newmarket, but the Mercedes followed, the court heard, and made several slow passes, only leaving when a marked police car arrived. They then checked out of the hotel at 1.40am.

Mr Caplan said: "The prosecution stresses the sinister behaviour of Rodgers and the others towards the surveillance officer on the unlit roads.

"They would not have known that he was a police officer, but they were obviously concerned that they might be being watched."

He also told the jury that the incident was "totally inconsistent" with the suggestion by Fallon that information passed to Sherkle had simply been friends' tips about races rather than part of a criminal conspiracy.

He said: "The persons who came specially to Newmarket were unhappy with the loss on Russian Rhythm and were anxious to confirm with Fallon, and if necessary confront him, regarding a more reliable working arrangement for stopping horses in the future."

Fallon's win on Russian Rhythm was not the only time his success on the racecourse cost the conspirators large sums of money, Mr Caplan said, and a series of text messages sent after another win, which allegedly lost Rogers £105,000, were also shown to the jury.

On July 23, 2004, Fallon rode Daring Aim to victory at Newmarket despite telling Rogers he would lose, the prosecution said.

A flurry of phone calls between Rogers and Sherkle and Sherkle and Fallon followed.

Texts found on phones Fallon and Sherkle used dating from the day after the race included the following messages.

Sherkle to Fallon (at 12.17pm): "If u don't speak to me now I won't be able to help you."

Fallon to Sherkle (at 12.22pm): "They will take my licences off me if they drift like that last night. They are watching me."

Mr Caplan said the texts were a clear indication of the relationship between Sherkle and Fallon, with the barman offering to "help" the jockey after he lost the conspirators a £105,000, and Fallon insisting the "drift" in the betting odds caused by the large sums of money Rodgers was placing would raise suspicions.

The court heard another text found on the phone, which was undated, was from Fallon to Sherkle and said: "No I can't chance it."

An example of the alleged conspiracy in action, Mr Caplan said, was clearly seen in a race at Lingfield on March 2, 2004, when Fallon came second in a race, allegedly winning Rodgers £26,599 from a £72,000 stake.

Just before the race the security department of the Jockey Club learned about suspicious betting patterns on Betfair, laying the horse to lose, and the steward was informed.

Mr Caplan said a veterinary officer watching the race was "astonished" that Fallon "appeared to stop riding the horse" as it came into the home straight.

He added: "The trainer, Andrew Balding, had entered the horse for the race with a high degree of confidence that it would win. Having built up a huge lead, the horse should have won. He knew that once Fallon had eased the horse up then it would not be able to pick up and run on strongly again. Mr Balding's feelings were anger and disbelief."

A stewards' inquiry found Fallon to have broken racing rules by failing to ensure the horse achieved the best placing, but this was regarded as incompetent, not cheating.

Mr Caplan said an Australian expert who viewed the race later expressed concern about Fallon's ride.

He said: "Passing the two furlong marker Ballinger Ridge (Fallon's horse) was five or six lengths in front and running within himself.

"But Fallon dramatically slowed his momentum to the point where he is doing virtually nothing."

The case continues.

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THE JURY at the trial of the alleged race-fixing conspiracy have been told of patterns of mobile phone contact on race days and the complex network of accounts allegedly used by Miles Rodgers.

Jonathan Caplan, QC, for the prosecution, told the jury Rodgers would wager "very large amounts of money" on a horse to lose, knowing the jockey "was prepared to cheat by using tactics on course to stop the horse if it was likely to win."

Caplan indicated Rodger's bets usually amounted to more than 50 per cent of the Betfair market in a particular race. The prosecution claimed the majority of bets were usually of more than £100,000, winning around £20,000.

Caplan said: "The pattern of contact by mobile phone on race days was nearly always the same, whichever jockey was riding. The jockey would call or text Rodgers, or Fallon would call or text the intermediary, who would then almost instantaneously contact Rodgers, and Rodgers would then begin to lay the horse on Betfair."

Jury members were supplied with a list of 12 Betfair account holders Rodgers admitted to operating to place large bets. Nine of the accounts were held by residents in the Sheffield area, and three of the accounts used the same password.

One account used was Miles Rodgers' partner, Joanne Richardon. The 'joricho' account was opened on January 23, 2002, and the account laid five of the 27 horses. Betfair closed the account in March 2004 after Rodgers used the account to lay his own bets via telephone.

Andrew Richardson, Joanne's brother from Sheffield, also held an account which laid two of the 27 horses.

Darren Armitage, from Barnsley, held an account called 'william', believed to have been used by Rodgers, which laid 21 of the 27 horses.

Brian Pilkington is a business partner of Rodgers also from Barnsley. His account opened on February 25, 2002, and laid 20 of the 27 horses.

Pilkington's brother-in-law, Philip Knight, from Northamptonshire, held an account also allegedly used by Rodgers and took part in 21 of the 27 races.

Peter Hayman, a jeweller from Sheffield, Nigel Schofield, Jeremy Holloway from Hamworth, Paul Hall from Doncaster, Clyde Griffin from Avon, Mrs D Griffin and Richard Hopkins from Tamworth were also cited as the other account holders.

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MOBILE phones used by Kieren Fallon and Fergal Lynch were not registered as demanded by the Jockey Club, according to prosecution counsel Jonathan Caplan QC.

From September 2003, club rules insist mobile phones used by racecourse jockeys must be registered with the club to regulate use and protect the integrity of racing.

The prosecution said Fallon had three additional unregistered "pay-as-you-go" mobile phones that were seized by police on his arrest.

Fallon is alleged to have used the phones to communicate with Philip Sherkle while Lynch used an unregistered mobile to communicate with Miles Rodgers.

One example laid by the prosecution of the chain of communication was that referring to the 6.55pm Goodwood race on August 14, 2004.

Miles Rodgers laid a bet between 6.35pm and 6.51pm on the horse Goodwood Spirit, ridden by Kieren Fallon.

He was 2-1 favourite but finished third in the race. Prosecution evidence shows Fallon called Philip Sherkle at 11.43am and 12.04pm on the day of the race. A further text message was sent from Fallon to Sherkle at 12.08pm. At 12.09pm Sherkle texted Miles Rodgers the message "6.55 no 4 n".

The bet placed by Rodgers for the race went under the account name Paul Hall for £116,738, and the bet won £29,822.

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BETFAIR is the leading internet betting exchange which allows punters to place bets against each other rather than a bookie.

When you place a bet, you are effectively backing your opinion against the opinion of someone else or several other people. The betting exchange simply acts as a middleman between the two sides of the betting market.

You never know who you are betting against, but Betfair matches your bet with other punters, stating the amount you are prepared to stake and the odds you are willing to accept or offer. The exchange does not have an interest in how much people win or lose - they make a profit by taking a percentage of each stake as commission.

The difference between a betting exchange and a bookmaker is that on Betfair and similar sites punters can bet that a horse will lose. This is called "laying" a bet.

When someone lays a bet, they take the role of the bookmaker and are liable for the payout according to the odds they have accepted.

It is this type of bet that the conspirators are alleged to have used to profit from fixing races.

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* March 2, 2004: Ballinger Ridge, 3.30pm at Lingfield, horse came second, Rogers bet £72,000 and won £26,000.

* May 15, 2004: Russian Rhytmn, 2.40pm Newbury, won, bet and lost £160,000.

* June 14, 2004: Levitator, 9.15pm Warwick, fifth, bet £79,000 and won £10,800.

* June 20, 2004: Krynica, 5.50pm Pontefract, won, bet and lost £165,000.

* June 30, 2004: Bubbling Fun, 3.40pm Lingfield, third, bet £58,000 and won £11,000.

* July 8, 2004: Bonecrusher, 7.55pm Epsom, fifth, bet £101,000 and won £21,000.

* July 10, 2004: Right Answer, 2.05pm York, second, bet £120,000 and won £20,000.

* July 15, 2004: Favour, 8.10pm Doncaster, seventh, bet £100,000 and won £12,000.

* July 19, 2004: Doctor Hilary, 2.45pm Ayr, second, bet £106,000 and won £25,000.

* July 23, 2004: Daring Aim, 6.15pm Newmarket, won, bet and lost £105,000.

* August 6, 2004: Dubai Adventure, 7.25pm Ayr, sixth, bet £57,000 and won £3,800.

* August 13, 2004: Lost Soldier Three, 3.25pm Newbury, second, bet £77,000 and won £18,000.

* August 14, 2004: Goodwood Spirit, 6.55pm Goodwood, third, bet £116,000 and won £29,000.

* August 14, 2004: Rangoon, 8pm Goodwood, second, bet £89,000 and won £36,000.

* August 16, Dial Square, 6.55pm Yarmouth, 17th, bet £39,000 and won £2,600.

* August 23, Barking Mad, 6.55pm Windsor, won, bet and lost £106,000.

* August 24, Beauvrai, 4.15pm Yarmouth, won, bet and lost £19,000.

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