The French jockey Maxime Tissier has been banned from racing for nine months after admitting placing 15 bets on the sport totalling more than £1,000.
While the integrity of the races involved has not been brought into question – neither Tissier nor his principal employer, the trainer Lucy Wadham, were not participating – it is still prohibited for jockeys to bet on the sport.
The Frenchman, who placed the wagers in a Newmarket betting shop in November 2019, had voluntarily given up his jockeys’ licence prior to the investigation being launched, and it has been ruled that he will not be able to re-apply for it for at least nine months.
The BHA, who took part in the independent disciplinary hearing, accepted that Tissier hadn’t bet on races he had insider knowledge of and had no way of influencing the outcome of, and therefore he has not been disqualified from racing permanently and can work within the sport in a different capacity in that nine-month period.
The jockey, who has earned more than £200,000 in prize money during his career, had mistakenly thought he was allowed to bet on races that he was not directly involved in, with his lack of English at the time a contributing factor, according to the panel. Such was his naivety, the Frenchman even walked into the William Hill betting shop in question wearing his riding gear – never once attempting to conceal his identity. He placed more than £1,200 in bets at that same shop, with stakes said to have ranged between £20 and £170. He ended up losing £591 on his wagers.
While yet to ride a major winner, Tissier still boasts an excellent strike rate of 16% with 22 wins from his 140 starts, and it is somehow all the more shocking when a precocious talent falls foul of such a basic rule breach. The BHA’s regulations state ‘….a professional jockey must not lay or back bet on a horse in any race, or instruct another person to do so, or receive proceeds from such a bet.’
Counting the Cost
Defending Tissier, Rory MacNiece used the example of Hayley Turner back in 2017, who had placed a series of bets online after retiring from the sport. However, because she still held her riding licence at the time so she could take part in invitational events, Turner was still subject to the BHA’s rules and regulations and punished accordingly – a three-month ban was handed out.
Reference was made also to Ryan Winks, another young jockey who placed nearly 800 bets while still licensed by the BHA – including wagering on races in which he was competing. The former Scottish Champion Chase winner even admitted ignoring warnings from champion jockey Richard Johnson and continued betting, staking nearly £3,000 and losing the best part of £1,000.
In delivering his final verdict, chairman of the disciplinary panel Brian Barker admitted that an impressive testimonial from Lucy Wadham had helped Tissier’s cause, before saying:
“We agree with Mr MacNiece’s submission that this should not be a disqualification case and therefore we approach it at the lesser level. We note in particular that there are no integrity issues to this matter.”