Page last updated at 21:02 GMT, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 22:02 UK

Gambler 'did affect race outcome'

Miles Rodgers arriving at the Old Bailey in October 2007
Police placed a listening device in Miles Rodgers' car

A man cleared of horse race fixing in 2007 had engaged in corrupt betting practices, the BBC's Panorama says.

Phone calls between Miles Rodgers and jockey Fergal Lynch revealed evidence they conspired to affect the outcome of a horse race, the programme says.

Panorama claims Mr Rodgers had been unfairly profiting from "inside information" through lay betting, where punters bet on which horses will lose.

Horseracing authorities say they will be examining the new information.

Ben Gunn, the director of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), the official governing body of British horseracing, told Panorama "there is only one certainty in racing and that is that a horse can be made to lose but it can't necessarily be made to win".


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Until recently, knowing which horse would lose was of little consequence, since that knowledge had no market value - betting was all about picking which animal would sweep to victory, not which would not.

But in the 1990s, with the advent of internet gambling and online betting exchanges such as Betfair, all that changed.

Picking losers, not winners

On betting exchanges there is no bookie, instead punters bet against each other.

As a result a new kind of betting emerged - lay betting - whereby gamblers are able to win money by picking not just winners, but losers.

Fergal Lynch - 2004 file pic
Panorama's analysis of the police tapes revealed what Fergal Lynch said

There has been concern that professional gamblers could try to acquire privileged information from owners, jockeys or trainers on a horse's likely performance to give themselves an unfair advantage on these sorts of bets.

Panorama found evidence relating to one occasion when Mr Rodgers went one step further, using his close contact with jockey Fergal Lynch to influence the outcome of a race.

In 2004, concerned that he was involved in serious crime, police put Mr Rodgers under surveillance and planted a listening device in his car.

As part of its investigation into horseracing, which lasted many months, Panorama got hold of some of those recordings.

Urgent call

On 31 August 2004, according to the programme, Mr Rodgers made a series of lay bets, using a number of internet accounts, on horses being ridden by Mr Lynch at Ripon race course that day.

Panorama reported that on the first race Mr Rodgers bet 30,000 that Fergal Lynch's horse Bond Babe would not win.

When it came in fifth, Mr Rodgers made a profit of 12,500, the programme said.

I don't really want to do that again... That cost me a winner
Fergal Lynch

On the second race, Panorama said, Mr Rodgers bet over 40,000 that Mr Lynch's horse Familiar Affair would lose.

However, the horse won and Mr Rodgers was down 31,000 as a result.

Jockeys are not allowed to use phones at the racecourse, and following that race Mr Lynch was seen hurriedly leaving the course to phone Mr Rodgers, Panorama said.

Acoustic analysis

The police surveillance device picked up Mr Rodgers' side of the conversation, in which he could be heard urging Mr Lynch to take action:

"Can you not drop this one out... Let me get as much as I can out of this one," he is heard saying.

"But listen, you cannot make a mistake on this one."

As Panorama acknowledged, the sport has made major decisions to address the threats we face and we are determined to protect the betting public and the integrity of racing
Nic Coward, Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority

Later, according to Panorama, Mr Rodgers managed to recoup some of his losses by betting that Mr Lynch's horse in the final race would lose - which it did.

The programme took the police recordings to Professor Peter French, an acoustic scientist frequently used to analyse recordings for court cases.

Mr French was able to clean up the recording so that the other side of the conversation, sounds coming from the receiver of Mr Rodgers' mobile phone, could be heard.

The conversation that Mr French analysed was one between Mr Rodgers and Fergal Lynch which took place later on 31 August, after all three races had been run.

Disciplinary proceedings

In it Mr Lynch can be heard saying to Mr Rodgers: "I don't really want to do that again," and "that cost me a winner".

The BHA has told jockeys that if they regularly give information, which is not in the public domain, to contacts who then use it to lay bet on horses to lose, they risk being disciplined.

That, they say, is the difference between tipping and what in the City would be called "insider dealing".

Panorama reporter Paul Kenyon explains lay betting and the issues it throws up

And the BHA says it will not need proof of financial gain to move against a jockey - that a pattern of contact with gamblers, even through a go-between, will be sufficient.

Panorama is passing the tapes from its investigation to the BHA, and the BHA has said that its legal advisers will examine the information for consideration of possible disciplinary proceedings.

"As Panorama acknowledged, the sport has made major decisions to address the threats we face and we are determined to protect the betting public and the integrity of racing.

"The matters highlighted in the programme had already come to the attention of our Integrity Services team," said Nic Coward, chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority.

In December 2007, Mr Rodgers was one of six people, including former champion jockey Kieren Fallon, who were cleared of race-fixing in a trial at the Old Bailey.

Mr Rodgers, who had been accused of being the plot's ringleader, was also acquitted of concealing the proceeds of crime.

An Old Bailey judge directed the jury to clear them of conspiracy to defraud customers of betting exchange Betfair after a key witness was undermined.

The prosecution's main witness was Australian racing steward Ray Murrihy, who found fault with the jockeys in 13 of the 27 races, but conceded under cross-examination that he could not say that any races had been fixed.

He also admitted he knew little about the rules and culture of British racing.

Panorama's Racing's Dirty Secrets was broadcast on BBC1 at 2100 GMT on Wednesday 30 July.

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