Robert Tierney, a farrier, and his son Richard, an amateur jockey, were warned off for six years and two years respectively by the British Horseracing Authority yesterday for running a “ringer” in two point-to-point races in February 2006. The decision of the BHA’s disciplinary panel was announced barely an hour after Richard Tierney had steered Amazing King to success in a race at Musselburgh.
Yesterday’s decision follows a protracted investigation by the BHA, which was launched after an anonymous tip-off that the Tierneys had run a “ringer” at the Old Raby Hunt point-to-point at Witton Castle on February 5 2006, and at the Brocklesby Hunt point-to-point at Brocklesby Park on Feburary 11 2006.
In both cases, Robert Tierney had entered a horse called Green Admiral to run, but the panel decided that the actual horse that took part in – and won – both races was King’s Crest, an eight-time winner on the Flat which had also been placed three times in hurdle races.
Tierney, a farrier who regularly worked for the trainer John Quinn, agreed to look after King’s Crest, who was trained by Quinn, in April 2005, after the gelding suffered an injury. Green Admiral, also a bay gelding with similar markings, was sold back to Tierney, a previous owner of the horse, in November 2005.
The horse that punters and bookies alike believed to be Green Admiral was well supported for its race at Witton Castle, starting the 2-1 favourite after opening in the betting at 12-1.
It won easily, and was a short-priced favourite again for its second success at Brocklesby Park. As a result, Green Admiral was a 4-1 favourite when next seen out, in a handicap chase at Market Rasen in August 2006, but finished last of eight runners. It then suffered a heart attack, and died at the course.
The panel was in no doubt that the animal that raced at Market Rasen was indeed Green Admiral, since its identification chip was checked at the track. However, having heard and examined evidence over three days, including photographs taken at the point-to-points, it was in no doubt that it was King’s Crest that had competed in both races in February.
In its conclusions, the panel stated that “running a ringer strikes at the very heart of the integrity of the sport. Here, it involved cheating punters at both point-to-points and also those who gambled on the Market Rasen race in the belief that Green Admiral had strong point-to-point form. It was also a deception of all those who competed in or watched the races.”
Richard Tierney’s penalty was less severe than that imposed on his father, “because of his age (17 years old at the time of the events in question) and because he was participating in the scam very much under the influence and direction of his father.” The panel also noted that “it was an unpleasant feature of this case that [Robert Tierney] should have led his 17-year-old son into serious dishonesty at the outset of his career as a jockey.”
WG note: Robery and Richard Tierney ride with the Derwent Hunt.