Former Premier League striker handed exclusion order by the BHA after failing to cooperate with investigation

Ashley Barnes: former Premier League player has been banned by the BHA
Ashley Barnes: former Premier League player has been banned by the BHACredit: Alex Livesey

Professional footballer Ashley Barnes has been indefinitely disqualified by the BHA for failing to cooperate with an investigation into the Hillsin affair.

Barnes, 34, plays for Championship side Norwich City and has scored six goals in 28 appearances this season. Prior to his move to Norwich last summer, Barnes had played for Premier League side Burnley.

Bath-born Barnes had been a registered owner in Britain with Manor Park carrying his colours to success in a 2m1f handicap hurdle at Newton Abbot in June 2021 when trained by Brian Barr.

However, this month Barnes was placed on the BHA’s disqualification list alongside his father-in-law, John Higgins, for “failure to cooperate with a BHA investigation”. 

Having been placed on the disqualification list, Barnes and Higgins are prevented from entering any premises licensed by the BHA or from associating with any racing professionals.

A BHA spokesman said: “The BHA can confirm that the Ashley Barnes listed as an excluded person on our website is the professional footballer Ashley Barnes. 

“Mr Barnes has been excluded due to a failure to cooperate with a BHA investigation. As that investigation is ongoing, the BHA will make no further comment.”

While the subject of the investigation is not listed by the BHA, the Racing Post understands the regulator had been seeking phone records from Barnes and Higgins in relation to its ongoing investigation into the running and riding of Hillsin at Worcester last summer.

Hillsin (noted): finished a tenderly-handled third at Worcester on Wednesday
Hillsin (noted): finished a tenderly handled third at Worcester last summer

The performance of Hillsin in a 2m4f conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle last year sparked a BHA investigation after the then five-year-old finished a close third under jockey Dylan Kitts having drifted in the betting to 11-1 from 2-1 favourite.

The Racing Post in-running comment said: “Held up in rear, headway 6th, in touch with leaders after 4 out, going easily but tenderly handled home straight, lost ground 3 out, stayed on and went third run-in, eyecatcher.”

Hillsin was banned from running for 40 days and Kitts was stood down before then having his licence suspended. Last month, Kitts was placed on the disqualified list having failed to provide the BHA with information requested as part of its investigation. He was removed the following day having provided the regulator with what it had been asking for.

Trainer Chris Honour, who saddled Hillsin at Worcester, said he had received death threats after the race and requested Hillsin and Colonel Lesley to be removed from his yard by Alan Clegg, their owner. Clegg said he had “done nothing wrong” and was “absolutely gutted” at the result.

Hillsin and Colonel Lesley were initially moved to Brian Barr and then on to Alan Jones after Barr quit training in August last year. Hillsin was sixth on his first run since his ban in January, while Colonel Lesley has yet to race since leaving Honour.

Norwich City did not respond to a request for comment by the Racing Post.

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Peter ScargillDeputy industry editor