Towcester Racecourse chief executive in ‘shock’ after being found guilty of being involved in ‘corrupt practices’

Towcester Racecourse chief executive Kevin Ackerman

Towcester Racecourse chief executive Kevin Ackerman

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The chief executive of Towcester Racecourse has been found in breach of rules concerning the involvement in corrupt or fraudulent practices in relation to racing by the British Horseracing Authority.

Following a disciplinary hearing, Kevin Ackerman was found guilty of transgressing the rules along with registered owner Kenneth Mackay, former registered owner David Greenwood and jockey Michael Stainton, with penalties yet to be decided for the quartet.

A fifth person involved in the hearing, former jockey Claire Murray, was found not in breach of any rules concerning the case, which surrounded the performances of Ad Vitam between November 2011 and March 2012

The panel found Greenwood had given Stainton instructions to prevent the horse from achieving its best possible placing in races at Kempton and Wolverhampton between November 2011 and February 2012.

The BHA determined that “David Greenwood’s purpose in getting Michael Stainton to ride in this manner was for handicapping reasons: it was done to try to reduce the horse’s official rating to a mark at which David Greenwood judged it would be more competitive”.

Although Greenwood was found to have communicated this information to Ackerman, who placed four lay bets, and Mackay, no reward was involved.

Ackerman and Mackay were subsequently found in breach of one rule, while Greenwood was found to have broken four rules and Stainton three.

All were found guilty of breaking rule (A)41.1, which has an entry point of exclusion from the sport for three years, and a range of six months to 10 years.

Ackerman and Mackay were cleared of two other possible rule breaches as the BHA determined they had not rewarded Greenwood for the information and had not otherwise assisted, encouraged or caused Greenwood to act in contravention of the rules.

Harry Stewart-Moore, who represents Greenwood and Ackerman, expressed his clients’ “shock” at the verdict and immediately indicated their intention to appeal.

A statement from Stewart-Moore Solicitors read: “We are profoundly shocked by the Disciplinary Panel’s findings in relation to our clients, Kevin Ackerman and David Greenwood.

“The brief document released by the Panel in support of its decision makes very little sense. Indeed the reasoning set out therein appears to be fundamentally flawed.

“It is very hard to fathom, for example, how Mr Ackerman has been found guilty of a corrupt or fraudulent practice in circumstances where the Panel has accepted that the BHA failed to establish the central allegation that there was a conspiracy.

“Until the Panel has released its reasons for this decision it is not possible for our clients to respond further save to say that there will be an appeal.

“It has taken the Panel the best part of two months to provide the cobbled together document it has published today. It is to be hoped that its members will now get their act together and publish their written reasons without further delay in order that the appeal process can begin.”