FORMER jockey Andrew Heffernan was among those to attend yesterday’s start of what could be a lengthy British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel hearing over breaches of the rules of racing.
Eight unlicensed individuals also face corruption charges, headed by three footballers in Ipswich Town’s Michael Chopra, former Manchester United player Mark Wilson and Doncaster Rovers winger James Coppinger. The other five names are Yogesh Joshee, Paul Garner, Kelly Inglis, Douglas Shelley and Pravin Shingadia.
Ten working days have been set aside for the hearing, followed by a period of consideration by the panel.
Heffernan has been charged with communicating for reward information to betting exchange account holders over the prospects of horses he was riding in races, and unlicenced individuals acted on that information. He is also charged with failing to ensure a horse ridden by him ran on its merits.
Chopra released a statement earlier this month revealing that he could not afford to defend himself at the hearing and would welcome a ban so he could overcome a gambling addiction problem. He, along with Garner, Joshee, Shelley and Wilson, have also been charged with offering bribes to Heffernan.
Meanwhile, Sprinter Sacre is one of nine confirmations for the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot on Saturday.
Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old is unbeaten in six starts over fences and was a brilliant winner of the Tingle Creek at Sandown on his seasonal reappearance in early December. He is set to head for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March as a long odds-on favourite, provided there are no hiccups this weekend.
Sprinter Sacre would appear to face a relatively straightforward task, with the Paul Nicholls-trained Sanctuaire the second highest-rated horse in the field. He was over 19 lengths behind Henderson’s charge in the Tingle Creek and subsequently won the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton.
Last year’s Victor Chandler hero Somersby could return to defend his crown for what would be his first outing of the season and first start since joining trainer Mick Channon. Wishfull Thinking remains an enigmatic character and a difficult horse to catch right, while the other entries – Idarah, Kinkeel, Kumbeshwar, Mad Moose and His Excellency – all have a mountain to climb on official figures.
One notable absentee from the confirmations is Robbie Hennessy’s stable star Rubi Light. The eight-year-old was a fine second to Sizing Europe in the Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown over the Christmas period, but will not be travelling to Ascot after suffering a setback.
Saturday’s StanJames.com Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock has been reopened until today after attracting an insufficient amount of entries. The Grade Two event, taken by Celestial Halo last year and by such horses as Mysilv, Rooster Booster and Inglis Drever in the past, was being considered as a comeback option for 2011 Champion Hurdle runner-up Peddlers Cross.
Donald McCain has given Peddlers’ Cross an alternative engagement in the Keltbray Holloway’s Hurdle at Haydock, where Alan King’s Christmas Hurdle runner-up Raya Star is also entered. Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup entries Katenko and Bold Sir Brian have been given the option of the Peter Marsh Chase on the same card at the Lancashire track.
1.10 Kims Quest
1.40 Full Of Joy
2.10 One In A Milan
2.45 Storm Alert
3.50 Rash Moment
4.20 Brantingham Breeze
1.00 Dynamic Idol
1.30 Sash Of Honour
2.00 Cuckoo Rock
2.30 First Fandango
3.05 Life Long
2.20 John Coffey
2.55 Holy Angel
3.25 Hepworth (nap)
5.30 Idol Deputy
One In A Milan
2:10 Ffos Las