Article by: Graham Green
Published in Racing Post on 6th September
A RELIEVED Peter Chapple-Hyam was yesterday cleared to continue his career as it emerged for the first time he has been under investigation for associating with a warned-off person.
The dual Derby-winning trainer was fined £5,000 at an inquiry at which he admitted he deliberately misled, or attempted to mislead, a BHA investigator in respect of his telephone records.
After what amounted to a plea bargain, a second charge under rile (A)50.2 concerning non-production of records was dropped. In deciding its penalty the disciplinary panel, faced with guilty verdicts on the original charges that could have resulted in a ban of up to three years, took into account as a mitigating factor that Chapple-Hyam suffered from acute anxiety that requires medical attention.
The trainer said after the hearing: "I was very slow on giving my records, which was my own stupid fault, because I was being pig-headed and silly, but I've been cleared of any wrong-doing or being connected to anybody who's been warned off.
"It's a massive relief because this has been hanging over me for a long time. I'd like to apologise to the BHA and thank my staff, my owners, my lawyer Rory Mac Neice and Sally my girlfriend, who I have probably put through hell over it."
The BHA revealed it had demanded Chapple-Hyam (pictured) produce his telephone records for a specific period during the course of an investigation into his possible connection with an individual who had been disqualified, but that the records did not disclose any such link.
However, they did disclose contact between Chapple-Hyam and an individual who was an associate of the excluded person, and Chapple-Hyam tried to conceal this fact, the BHA said.
In an attempt to do so he at first supplied incomplete records, he provided the BHA with doctored ones in which the relevant entries had been changed to conceal the individual's telephone number.
The panel said in a statement it wished "to make it entirely clear that it is wholly unacceptable for forged documents to be supplied to the BHA; it would only be an exceptional case that such an offence would not lead to suspension or disqualification".
However, the statement added: "In the present case, the BHA has considered and accepted medical evidence showing that Chapple-Hyam has for some time been suffering from acute anxiety to an extent where he has required medical treatment.
"It is common ground that his attempt to conceal his contact with the said individual was in part attributable to that condition. Further, the BHA has accepted there is no evidence to suggest Chapple-Hyam has in fact been in contact with an excluded person.
"In these circumstances, the BHA has accepted there is substantial mitigation available to Chapple-Hyam, which would justify a decision to limit sanction to the imposition of a financial penalty.
"The panel has, after close consideration of the evidence and the parties' representations, concluded that the appropriate penalty is a fine of £5,000. The panel has fixed the fine at the top end of the prescribed range (£1,000-£5,000) because (i) in a case involving the supply of forged documents, the decision not to suspend or disqualify is an exceptional one; and (ii) the offence is aggravated by Chapple-Hyam's failure to make a full admission at the outset of his interview."
Mac Neice said: "The standout feature of this matter was that the BHA quite properly accepted Peter was not trying to hide any underlying wrongdoing."
Chapple-Hyam has had a disappointing season, with his Newmarket yard having sent out only 11 winners, but continues to enjoy the support of major owners.