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Owner Arnold admits laying horses to lose

OWNER and professional punter Stephen Arnold, who has master minded several hefty gambles over the last couple of years, is facing the prospect of being warned off after laying ten of his runners to lose.

Arnold, 44, admits the offences set to be announced by the BHA as early as Monday, but insists there was no corrupt intent and that in each instance he laid the horses on Betfair in an endeavour to back them for substantial sums at the best price available with bookmakers.

The charges stem from a BHA investigation into the Brown Pete affair at Wolverhampton last December, when another three of Arnold's horses were withdrawn from a race won by Brown Pete amid claims of transport problems. Arnold afterwards admitted winning around £130,000, together with his associates.

The ten all weather races at the centre of the BHA disciplinary inquiry scheduled for December 5 involve nine of Arnold's horses and cover the period between June 18, 2012 and March 15 this year. A guilty verdict would be expected to result in a lengthy term of disqualification.

In all but one of the races Arnold was either a net backer on Betfair, or placed equal bets.

The exception was the Cut The Cackle race at Lingfield on January 5 when, after laying the mare to the sum of £64.73, Arnold also placed coinciding back bets totalling £51, which meant he profited whether she won or lost.

Arnold admitted: "I'm being charged with so called laying, but it's not what I would describe as laying horses and not what I understood to be laying horses.

"Everybody knows horses crash on Betfair for a matter of pounds in the morning and all the bookies follow suit, so if I fancied one of mine I would try to hold the price out for a few pounds. Once we had got our money on with bookmakers I would then back the horse to make sure I couldn't profit from it losing, believing that wasn't laying horses. Clearly I miscalculated with Cut The Cackle, but that was just an innocent mistake.

"When the Brown Pete stuff happened obviously I had to hand over my Betfair records and I asked them [the BHA] at the time if what I had been doing was a problem and they said 'yes', so obviously I've never done it since, but there were a few occasions before that. So although I was cleared in respect of Brown Pete, now they're charging me with so called laying of horses."

The rules over licensed individuals laying their horses on betting exchanges have been tightened since part owners Anthony Ramsden and Robert Owen were fined rather than disqualified over the laying of Mickmacmagoole at Southwell in 2005 after the pair, like Arnold, argued they laid the horse to small amounts in order to preserve the price to back it on the day of the race.

Arnold has 21 horses under the banner with trainer Violet Jordan, whom he on Sunday informed that he had been charged on Friday. The size of her Warwickshire based operation would be more than halved if she loses his patronage.

Of Arnold's 65 Flat winners over the past three years, 17 have come this season.

Arnold, who will be represented by solicitor Rory Mac Neice at next month's hearing, added: "I don't think I've done anything wrong, but the way they [the BHA] read their rules they say I have. To me, laying a horse is profiting from it getting beaten, and that wasn't what I was doing.

"I can't deny what they're saying, but what I do argue with is that the rules about laying horses aren't very clear."

Brown Pete, who features on the charge sheet after being laid to £50 by Arnold when beaten in a race at Lingfield last November, runs in the Coral App Download From The App Store Handicap at Wolverhampton on Monday.

The BHA declined to comment on Sunday.

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