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Sunday, 21 September 2014

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Betting scam horse trainer given 14-year ban

A former Cumbria-based horse trainer has been banned from training for 14 years after he was found to be at the centre of a betting scandal.

Elliott Cooper photo
Elliott Cooper at the Cumberland Lodge stables in 2009

Elliott Cooper, 29, has been disciplined by the British Horseracing Association (BHA) for his involvement in three separate bet-fixing incidents.

It is the second time the trainer, who used to operate from Brigham, near Cockermouth, has been sanctioned by the BHA.

In imposing the lengthy ban, the panel said: “The conspiracy spanned three different horses in three separate races, and involved deceiving a number of different trainers over a period of time.

“This was not a one-off event; it was a carefully planned corrupt enterprise that would, in the panel’s view, have continued but for the BHA investigation.”

Between about August 1, 2011 and January 12, 2012, Mr Cooper conspired with Steven Gagan and Stuart Trevaskis to have bets placed in three separate races using “insider” information.

Mr Trevaskis, who runs a bookmaker’s in Whitehaven, was excluded for 11-and-a-half years for breaches of the rules relating to the conspiracy to commit a corrupt practice.

The horses involved were Quell the Storm, racing on August 25, 2011 at Cartmel; Platinum, racing on January 1, 2012 at Fakenham; and Kickahead, racing at Musselburgh on January 13, 2012.

There are a number of charges against the men, as BHA investigators attempted to unravel a web of deceit. In one instance the men lied about who was the owner of a horse to pass on information to the legitimate trainer.

They had also arranged for two horses not to finish – they were pulled up – and on another occasion the trio attempted to race a horse which was unfit. A large bet had been placed on that race, but the con was thwarted after a doctor ruled the horse unfit at the eleventh hour.

The net proceedings of the lay bets was split between Mr Cooper, Mr Gagan and Mr Trevaskis.

In deciding on Mr Cooper’s sentence, the panel said it considered a baseline penalty of 12 years.

“The panel noted to Mr Cooper’s credit that he had co-operated to an extent with the BHA inquiry and that he was prepared to give evidence over the phone,” it stated. “That noted, the admissions he made before the panel could have been made long before the hearing and, at the time of his interview, he continually lied about events to the BHA investigators.”

The report adds: “Mr Cooper’s involvement was central throughout the conspiracy, acting as the link between Gagan and Trevaskis; he was involved with the purchase and placing of the horses and concealment of the conspiracy.

“He knew about the lay bets and he directly profited from the winnings of the successful lay betting on Quell the Storm at Cartmel.”

The disciplinary committee did make note of the “very real difficulties” suffered by Mr Cooper and the effect a lengthy ban could have. However, it highlighted his previous BHS disqualification – and the fact these charges “took place in the very shadow of his previous hearing”.

It concluded: “The panel also took a particularly poor view of Mr Cooper, as a former trainer, being prepared to involve and dupe perfectly innocent permit holders and trainers as part of his corrupt enterprise.”

He was disqualified for a total period of 14 years and concurrently excluded with no right to apply to the BHA to lift this exclusion for a period of 14 years.

The BHA began its investigation in January 2012 and referred its findings to Cumbria Police in July 2012. The police investigation concluded in July last year, when it was decided to refer the case back to the BHA.

The News & Star attempted to contact Mr Cooper but was unable to reach him.

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