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Flockton Grey

Flockton Grey was the British racehorse at the centre of one of the largest betting scandals to hit British horseracing, which remains the best-known case of a corrupt trainer and owner using a ringer to race in place of another horse. Because of the use of a ringer, Flockton Grey did not actually run in the race for which he became most famous.

Flockton Grey was an undistinguished gelding, by Dragonara Palace out of Misippus. Flockton Grey was entered into his first race for two-year-olds on March 29, 1982 at Leicester Racecourse. As a debutant from an unremarkable yard, the horse was priced at 10-1. The perpetrators of the scam, owner Ken Richardson and trainer Stephen Wiles, saw an opportunity to make a quick profit and backed their horse with £20,000, spreading their money around betting shops to avoid detection. They also arranged for a far better horse, Good Hand, formerly owned by Richardson, to run in place of Flockton Grey. As a three-year-old, Good Hand was far too strong for the competition, and romped home unchallenged, to win by 20 lengths.

The margin of victory caused immediate suspicion, and bookmakers refused to pay out. A police investigation followed. Official race photographs revealed the winner had teeth too developed to be a two-year-old's. Records of the course veterinarian disclosed that the winner had a conspicuous scar on its foreleg. Investigators traced Flockton Grey to one of Wiles' yards, determining his identity by blood tests, but found no scar. The deceit uncovered, Richardson was charged with conspiracy to defraud. In June 1984, he was convicted, fined £20,000 with £25,000 in costs, and given a suspended 9-month sentence. Following his conviction, the Jockey Club "warned off" Richardson for an unprecedented period of 25 years. Wiles received a similar ban from racing. Jockey Kevin Darley was exonerated of any knowledge of the switch, and it was noted that a rider with inside knowledge could easily have held his horse back, minimising the winning margin and preventing any suspicion.

Richardson would later resurface as the chairman of Bridlington Town Football Club and later the self-styled "benefactor" of Doncaster Rovers F.C.; Bridlington Town went bankrupt during his stewardship, with fans of the club accusing Richardson of gross financial mismanagement. Similar accusations were made during his tenure at Doncaster. The tumultuous period in the club's history only ended in 1999, when Richardson was convicted of attempted arson for his role in hiring three associates to burn down Doncaster's ground to collect insurance money. He was jailed for four years and ordered to pay £75,000 in costs.


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