BHA counsel told ‘you need to put the case in clear terms’

Trainer Jim Best: denies telling John to stop two horses in 2015

PICTURE: Getty Images BHA counsel told to 'put the case in clear terms' By Jon Lees 1:54PM 23 NOV 2016

THE BHA lead counsel was told on Wednesday he was not presenting his case against Jim Best in clear terms as he was, in effect, advised to get to the heart of the allegations against the trainer that he ordered conditional jockey Paul John to stop two horses.

In an intervention at the end of the third day of the rehearing Sir William Gage, chairman of the disciplinary panel, told barrister Louis Weston, representing the BHA, after he had questioned Best for an hour: "You haven't put to the witness what is your case and why he is involved in this.

"You need to put the case in clear terms. There has been a lot of cross-examination and you have not got anywhere near that."

Weston has replaced Graeme McPherson QC following objections by Best's legal team to McPherson, who is also a licensed trainer, to present the case at the rehearing ordered after the verdict of the first inquiry was quashed over a perception of bias because panel chairman Matthew Lohn carried out paid work for the BHA.

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Best denies charges he ordered John to stop Echo Brava and Missile Man in hurdle races at Plumpton and Towcester in December last year and of conduct prejudicial to horseracing.

As Best began his evidence the panel was told the trainer coughed a lot because of anxiety. At one point he was told by Jonathan Laidlaw QC not to shout.

"I'm sorry," he said. "It does upset me. I watch and watch it [the races]. This is my life. It's very upsetting."

'He couldn't settle in a yard'

Asked why John would have made up the allegations, Best said: "My feeling is he couldn't settle down in a yard. He was not going by the BHA rules by sticking with a trainer. He couldn't commit to us.

"He made allegations to try to cover the fact he couldn't be dedicated and settle in a yard. Paul John is a complete liar. It's a disgusting thing to do to anyone."

He said John told him he had left Mark Gillard, who previously held his licence, after an owner spat at him, and when asked about his time with Victor Dartnall replied, "Victor Dartnall is an ****hole."

He said he was "horrified" to learn that when there was a delay to John receiving his conditional licence the rider alleged PJA chief executive Paul Struthers told him the reason was because "you stop horses". This was denied by Struthers when the trainer called him, Best said.

In evidence given by phone, Dartnall said John was a competent rider but showed "no commitment to work in the yard", which he said was unusual. "I would expect a boy trying to get rides to try harder".

The case continues.

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