The general consensus among racing fans and pundits is that trainer David Evans was right to describe his punishment from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) as “very lenient.”
The saga of events that landed Evans in trouble occurred on 9 January 2015, when the trainer had both Black Dave and Tango Sky scheduled to run in the same race, he then attempted to ‘nick a bit of extra value’ by delaying the declaration of Tango Sky as a non-runner in order to ensure that he got better value when he placed a £6,000 bet on Black Dave to win the race, a decision that had his selection been successful, would have gained Evans half a point on his selection.
Although he failed to win the bet as his horse finished fourth, Evans sealed his own fate when in conversation with a phone trader at Ladbrokes, who questioned the reasoning behind Evans placing the largest bet he had ever placed on the account, he revealed that it was his intention to pull Tango Sky out of the race. Ladbrokes went onto share this information with the BHA later that day.
The BHA initially ruled that the wrongdoing was worthy of a £4,000 fine, however as a result of Evans giving “honest answers at every stage of the investigation” the punishment was reduced to £3,000. Delivering the verdict, Tim Charlton QC underlined that “The sport of horse racing has a fundamental interest in honest and accurate betting markets.” Furthermore, a BHA disciplinary panel came to the conclusion that that the offence didn’t warrant Evans losing his license.
A further disconcerting matter to arise from the case, was that upon discovering that the favourite Tango Sky was about to be pulled from the race, prior to enforcing procedures and informing the BHA of Evans’ wrongdoing, Ladbrokes also shortened the price of Tango Sky, something that Ladbrokes Coral’s Keith Page said was done to “bring it in line with industry prices.”
Page continued: “There are two theoretical possibilities to the reason behind the price change for Tango Sky – either it was a very cynical price change in order to affect the subsequent Rule 4 or our traders were alerted to something not being right about the market, so they shortened the price of the market principals.”
As a result of the price being shortened, the rule 4 deduction was 25p from every £1, as oppose to 20p, had Tango Sky retained its previous price of 7/2, something that will inevitably serve to heighten the anger of many punters.