Pitman promises common sense after joining disciplinary panel
Grand National and Gold Cup-winning trainer Jenny Pitman has pledged to bring common sense to racing's new disciplinary panel and licensing committee after it was revealed she and Classic-winning jockey Philip Robinson are among the 23 members of the new panel announced on Monday by the BHA.
The addition of racing professionals was among 24 changes recommended by Christopher Quinlan QC in his report last September on the BHA's integrity after the Jim Best and Matthew Lohn debacles, in which he labelled the disciplinary panel "not structurally independent".
The make-up of the panels received some of the strongest criticism from Quinlan, who described it as "insufficiently representative of the sport", while the recruitment process, which was not set down in the rules, was labelled "opaque and not formalised".
Now the panel has been opened to all, with a transparent recruitment process, and Pitman and Robinson are among the first former racing professionals to be invited to sit in on disciplinary proceedings.
Pitman said: "Quite simply, it's a great honour to have been invited to join the panel. I went there with a very open mind and it was a very fair process.
"I'm very much hoping that if an incident arises an explanation from people who have worked their whole life in the sport will be deemed worthwhile, that's my wish. Hopefully common sense will prevail. I just hope we can pool our resources and knowledge.
"You have some high-powered legal people on the panel, I haven't got a legal brain I've got a logical brain – I deal in common sense. People have said about me in the past 'she's hard but fair' and I hope they're still saying that at the end of my three-year contract."
Explaining how she came to be involved, Pitman added: "I was sent the details with the message 'you should apply for this, you'd be good at it' and I took a couple of days and did some research. I read through the previous year's inquiries and didn't find anything too intimidating, so I felt my grassroots experience could be helpful."
A rider's perspective
Robinson, who won the 1,000 Guineas twice on Pebbles and Ameerat and won a St Leger on Bob's Return, was widely regarded as one of the best tactical minds of his generation and he too is hopeful his experience can be of great use.
"One of the main things I can bring is reading the races from a rider's aspect, but also from the horse's. I think that will be a big bonus for the panel, to get that insight from a rider's perspective," he said.
"I like to think I was a bit of a thinker when it came to race-riding and that will hopefully stand me in good stead. I might also be able to see when a horse is hanging for a medical reason in a way your average person may not understand. I'm looking forward to it and hope I can help out."
Pitman and Robinson are joined on the panel by Gardie Grissell, who trained more than 300 winners, and Jodie Mogford, who rode 170 winners and is currently assistant trainer to Graeme McPherson.
Others from within racing but not from a legal or disciplinary background include Dr Lyn Griffiths, a former racecourse medical officer, owner-breeder Steve Winfield, Yvonne Mee, a retired investigating officer and stable inspector, former BHA handicapper John de Moraville and Simon Rowlands, chairman of the Horseracing Bettors Forum.
An extensive recruitment process
Brian Barker QC, appointed judicial panel chairman after the quasi-judicial functions of the BHA were removed from the regulator's corporate structure, began the recruitment process back in February.
He said: “The appointment process for these important positions has been an extensive one. I’d like to thank everyone for taking the time and effort to apply and we were very fortunate to have such a high number of quality applications.
“I’m pleased we have been able to put in place a panel which combines greater diversity of skills and experience, bringing together significant legal expertise and in-depth horseracing knowledge.”
Nick Rust, chief executive of the BHA, added: “Implementing in full the recommendations from the recent integrity and Quinlan reviews remains a core priority for the BHA this year, and the appointment of this talented panel brings us another step closer to that objective.
“It is essential that the sport’s participants and followers continue to have confidence in our judicial system, that it is handled by the right individuals and acts with correct independence from the BHA’s regulatory functions. We aim for the BHA to be at the forefront of sporting regulation best practice and the appointment of this panel reflects a further step in this direction.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the existing members of the disciplinary panel, appeal board and licensing committee for their long and distinguished service to the sport.
"In particular our thanks go to Lucinda Cavendish, the chair of the disciplinary panel. Her judgement and dedication throughout the years have been an important factor in ensuring that the sport is regulated in a manner which is fair and legally sound. We are grateful for her service, and that of all the panel members.”
Barker interviewed 53 of the 138 applicants before deciding upon the final make-up of his 23-strong panel. He was assisted in the decision-making process by the deputy chairman Bruce Blair QC, Philip Freedman, chairman of the Horsemen’s Group, and Carole Goldsmith, the BHA’s director of people and development. The panelists are on three-year contracts starting on July 3.
The BHA pledged to implement all of Quinlan's recommendations, a move that was welcomed by the Professional Jockeys Association, contained in a 151-page report that took three months to compile.
Quinlan also recommended active racecourse stewards no longer also sit as disciplinary panel members, in which function they had previously been occasionally asked to pass judgement on the decisions of peers and colleagues.
THE PANEL IN FULL
Tim Charlton QC
A disciplinary panel chairman since 2005
Retired circuit judge and member of disciplinary panel since 2011. Will stand down from stewarding duties
David Fish QC
Practising lawyer and longtime racehorse owner. Outgoing chairman of 32Red
Patrick Milmo QC
Practising lawyer and a longtime owner and breeder
J Stuart Morrison
A retired solicitor and has been racehorse owner since 1990. Also a non-executive director of Ayr racecourse
William Norris QC
Practising lawyer and trustee of the Injured Jockeys Fund
HH Judge James O’Mahony
A circuit judge in Kent
Practising lawyer and the legally qualified member of the licensing committee. Will continue to sit only on licensing committee cases
A former steward at ten racecourses, including Epsom, Goodwood and Sandown, and a racehorse owner
A retired Crown Prosecution Service lawyer and a member of several racecourses
Existing member of the disciplinary panel and licensing committee and a steward at six racecourses. Will act only in licensing matters
A practising lawyer and racehorse owner
A practising barrister who rides out regularly and rode the winner of the MacMillan charity race for amateurs at York in 2014
Dr Lyn Griffiths
Former racecourse medical officer and currently a senior medico-legal adviser for the Medical Protection Society
Former trainer who saddled more than 300 winners
Rode around 170 jumps winners and is now assistant trainer to Graeme McPherson. As such, will not sit on any cases involving a licensed trainer
Jenny Pitman OBE
Became first woman to train a Grand National winner, with Corbiere in 1983, and followed up with Royal Athlete in 1995. Also counts two Cheltenham Gold Cups among her many big-race successes
Existing disciplinary panel member who will now step down from raecourse stewarding
Rode more than 1,000 winners on the Flat, including more than 30 Group 1 winners worldwide. Coaching development manager at the British Racing School and as such will not sit on any cases involving his students, past or present
Former Timeform employee and currently chairman of the Horseracing Bettors Forum
An owner-breeder and former chairman of the Greyhound Regulatory Board
A retired investigating officer and stable inspector. Will join the panel in July 2018
John de Moraville
Former BHA handicapper for 19 years and previously a Daily Express racing journalist. Will join the panel in November 2018