BHA: no integrity threat from previously disqualified owner at Howling yard
The BHA said on Wednesday it was satisfied there was no threat to racing's integrity after it emerged that a previously disqualified and excluded racehorse owner is involved in the yard where Paul Howling has resumed his training career.
Gary Banham, a haulier, was disqualified for six months after making "real" and "menacing" threats to BHA investigators and was made the subject of an indefinite exclusion order in 2011 in the wake of the Sabre Light corruption inquiry, which led to trainer Jeff Pearce and former trainer Geoff Huffer being warned off.
He has now been identified as the new owner of Mulligan's Yard, in Cowlinge, near Newmarket, previously part of John Ferguson's stables, where Howling has held the licence since coming out of retirement this year with Banham's teenage daughter Chelsea as his assistant, having had the exclusion order lifted three years ago.
In 2011, Gary Banham was one of four people, who included his sister Sharon Williams, charged by the BHA over the laying of Sabre Light, who had been beaten in a Lingfield claimer, although the inquiry could not establish this was the result of inside information.
As the four failed to attend the inquiry they were excluded and additionally Banham was disqualified over his behaviour when investigating officers attempted to record a prearranged interview with him about the case.
According to the inquiry transcript, "Banham leapt from his chair and stood over the seated Williams and Burgess, screaming abuse and threatening to throw punches. He continued making threats to hit both Williams and Burgess, who remained seated in an attempt to reduce the chance of actual violence occurring, for ten or 15 minutes.
"He did calm down gradually thereafter and the investigators remained with him and asked questions for some considerable time thereafter, but without being able to record what was said."
The panel stated that no application for the removal of the exclusion orders could be made for two years.
The BHA confirmed Banham submitted an application to remove the order after four and a half years, which was granted after certain assurances were given. He has not applied for registration as an owner or licensed individual.
BHA spokesman Robin Mounsey said: "The penalties against Banham were disqualification for six months for breach of Rule (A)30.1 and indefinite exclusion thereafter, with the proviso that he cannot apply for a removal of the exclusion for two years.
"The penalties were imposed from January 13, 2011 consecutively and Banham made an application for removal of the exclusion in June 2015.
“Banham’s application for removal of the exclusion was considered by the BHA’s independent disciplinary officer, which included careful consideration of the basis for the application put forward by Banham.
"The independent disciplinary officer lifted the exclusion based on a number of factors, which included assurances from Banham. The terms of Banham’s application to lift the exclusion were seen to be sufficient, in the independent disciplinary officer’s view, to protect racing’s integrity.
“Banham has not asked, been permitted, nor has consideration been given to him returning to racing in the capacity of a licensed or registered person. He simply requested for the exclusion to be lifted."
Chelsea Banham, 19, rode on the Flat as an amateur, recording one win from 11 rides.
Howling said: "I get on well with Chelsea, who is only young and needs experience. She's been an assistant with Alan Bailey, has ridden a winner as an amateur rider and is keen to ride more winners."
He added: "I'm very honoured to train at such a beautiful place and it’s a fabulous opportunity that I am quite excited about. I took a few years out, fishing and shooting, but hope some of my old owners will have horses with me again – I’ve got 12 in at the moment and am waiting for the sales to buy more.”
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