The official press release:
The Referrals Committee, Judge Tony Hunt (in the Chair), J.R. Craigie and Valerie Cooper met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on 27th September 2011 to consider the referrals of Gosuke Motoki and Kaname Tsuge, stable employees of A.P. O’Brien, trainer, by Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club, in respect of possible breaches of Rule 273(xiv), 4(b) which prohibits the holder of a racing establishment employee card to lay any horse under the care and control of the trainer for whom he is employed to lose a race with any person or betting organisation.
Evidence was heard from Chris Gordon, Turf Club Head of Security. The Committee also considered a number of admissions made by Gosuke Motoki and Kaname Tsuge during an interview with Chris Gordon and Hugh Hynes, Turf Club Integrity Analyst, on 10th May 2011 and a copy of the various transactions on both accounts. In addition, the Committee considered a written submission from A.P. O’Brien, trainer and employer of both individuals.
In his evidence Chris Gordon said that both he and Hugh Hynes met with Gosuke Motoki and Kaname Tsuge on 10th May 2011. This meeting was also attended by Frank Ward (solicitor representing both employees) and Jonathan Baum, Interpreter. He said that both were Japanese Nationals who had worked with A.P. O’Brien as exercise riders, in Gosuke Motoki’s case since 2003 and in Kaname Tsuge’s case since 2000 with the exception of a 10 month period in 2004.
He said that in Mr. Motoki’s case he fully accepted that he had layed the 34 horses trained by his employer between the period 11th May 2007 and 12th May 2010 as set out in his betting records which had been supplied by Betfair to the Turf Club. Mr. Motoki accepted that this was in contravention of the Rules of Racing but said he had no knowledge of these rules until he was informed of the prohibition on laying horses by Mr. O’Brien in an insert in his December 2010 pay slip. He said that he had a poor grasp of the English language and that both he and his colleague Kaname Tsuge tended not to mix with other members of staff at Ballydoyle because of this.
Mr. Gordon went through the various lay bets (see attached schedule) and summarized Mr. Motoki’s transactions as follows:
Number of horses layed to lose 34
Amount won €1,369.00
Amount lost €1,415.65
Loss on transactions €46.55
Mr. Gordon said that Kaname Tsuge had accepted that he layed 61 horses trained by A.P. O’Brien to lose between 25th March 2007 and 29th October 2010. Mr. Tsuge accepted that this was in contravention of the Rules of Racing and also said that he had no knowledge of these rules until he was informed of the prohibition on laying horses in an insert in his December 2010 pay slip. Like Mr. Motoki, he had a poor grasp of the English language. Mr. Gordon also said that Mr. Tsuge made no effort to cover up what he was doing and even used Ballydoyle, Rosegreen as the registered address on his Betfair account.
Chris Gordon also went through Kaname Tsuge’s lay bets and summarized his transactions as follows:
Number of horses layed to lose 61
Amount won €5,101.19
Amount lost €4,500.84
Profit on transactions €600.35
He accepted that in both cases there was a clear lack of knowledge of the Rule. He said that there was a lack of guidance from the employer and that the language barrier also contributed to the problem. Mr. Gordon said that in his view both Mr. Motoki and Mr. Tsuge were gambling in the majority of cases by laying the Ballydoyle horses rather than using inside information.
Mr. Gordon then outlined how the Turf Club became aware of the transactions. He said that he was contacted by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) after they investigated similar lay transactions on British racing following information supplied by Betfair. He said that Betfair knew that both employees were connected with Ballydoyle but despite this they hadn’t informed the Turf Club. As a result the Turf Club requested information from Betfair and the information relating to both accounts was then furnished.
In conclusion he said that both Gosuke Motoki and Kaname Tsuge co-operated fully with the investigation.
In his written submission, A.P. O’Brien confirmed that both Gosuke Motoki and Kaname Tsuge were employed by him as exercise riders. He said that he trusted them utterly and held them in the highest regard. He also said that he found them to be absolutely honest and conscientious in all their dealings with him and their fellow employees. He also outlined details of changes that have now been made to ensure that all employees are aware that they cannot lay horses or pass information of any kind to third parties. He said that he accepted the conclusion reached by the Turf Club Head of Security that both individuals were gambling rather than deriving an unfair advantage from the availability of inside information.
In his plea, Frank Ward reiterated many of the points already raised and highlighted his client’s lack of knowledge of the Rules, the language barrier and the fact that both were gambling rather than using inside information.
Having considered the evidence, the Committee noted that this was only the second case of its type to be dealt with by the Turf Club. They said that their main concern was to ensure that the integrity of racing was maintained to the highest standards and that they regarded the practice of stable employees laying horses to lose as a most serious offence. They said that in an ordinary situation, offences such as this would warrant a disqualification but in this case a disqualification would not be imposed in view of a number of mitigating factors. Firstly, they accepted that both Mr. Motoki and Mr. Tsuge had no knowledge that what they were doing was wrong. However, this didn’t make what they did right. Secondly, both made no attempt to conceal their addresses and in Mr. Tsuge’s case he actually used Ballydoyle, Rosegreen as his registered address with Betfair. They also noted that the bets were modest in general and that there were many other horses layed by them from other stables so in effect there was a pattern of activity which indicated that both accounts were “gambling”. The Committee noted that the laying of Aidan O’Brien’s horses appeared to be based on perceptions rather than solid information. The Committee also noted the language difficulties. Having taken all these factors into account the Committee imposed a fine of €2,000 on both Gosuke Motoki and Kaname Tsuge and ordered that both pay costs of €350.
The Committee was critical of Betfair and in the manner that the information was brought to the attention of the Turf Club. They felt that it should have been furnished much earlier under the Memorandum of Understanding and that the trigger for receiving the information shouldn’t have been a request from the Turf Club following the BHA investigation. They said it was imperative that there is closer co-operation between Betfair and the Turf Club in future and that where Betfair has any suspicion that it be brought to the Turf Club’s attention at the earliest opportunity.
The case was presented by Conal Boyce, Wilkinson & Price Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.
Gosuke Motoki and Kaname Tsuge were represented by Frank Ward, Frank Ward & Company Solicitors, Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 7.