Banks and BHA settle Speculative Bid case out of court

Geoff Banks

Geoff Banks: raised a claim against the BHA for £250

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

THE BHA and on-course layer Geoff Banks have settled out of court their dispute over the Speculative Bid fiasco at Ascot last year.

No payment is being made to cover the £250 losses claimed by Banks and neither side has admitted any liability or wrongdoing, but the BHA has contributed towards the legal costs Banks incurred.

The case related to money lost by Banks at Ascot in July 2015 after Speculative Bid emerged riderless from the stalls in a race for which he was favourite.

A series of conflicting announcements led to bookmakers paying out more than they should. The BHA apologised but refused to offer compensation.

Banks tried to pursue a small claims case against the BHA but the regulator was successful in arguing it should be escalated to a higher court because of its legal complexity, meaning Banks faced the prospect, if defeated, of covering the BHA’s legal costs. Before settling Banks had asked his fellow bookmakers for financial support.

Banks, who originally represented himself, had said the case was a matter of principle rather than money and sought to prove that the BHA had a duty of care towards racecourse bookmakers.

Speaking to the Racing Post on Tuesday, however, Banks said: “I am very happy. This is a new age of openness and transparency for the BHA. It was an unfortunate event, but this is a positive outcome.

“They accept errors were made on the day and are not trying to prove a point here. They agreed to cover an element of my legal fees, which was very fair.”

Rust: BHA takes responsibility

Nick Rust, chief executive of the BHA, said: “We have never accepted that a duty of care exists as it would have serious implications for the funding of our sport and a direct impact on the livelihoods of participants.

“We are pleased that we have been able to settle the matter amicably with Mr Banks without him or the BHA incurring unnecessary additional legal costs.

“We take full responsibility for the initial error, and it’s important that we learn from this incident to prevent it happening again. This case has been useful in that it helped us to examine our policies and performance, and we are grateful to Geoff for raising the matter and for the approach he is taking to help us learn and improve.

“We have asked Geoff if he would be willing to help the BHA by working closely with us on our policies that affect the bookmaking industry, given the impressive knowledge and vigour he has shown throughout this case.”

Nick Rust (BHA) at the press conference

Nick Rust: said the BHA took responsibility for the original error

  PICTURE: Dan Abraham  

Banks said: “I’m heartened by the honest attitude of Nick Rust and his team, not only to help resolve matters amicably, but to progress the relationship between the betting public and the sport. I feel we’ve gained a positive outcome from Ascot. I welcome the opportunity to work with the BHA on these matters going forward.”

A race that ended in farce

The biggest betting race on King George day ended in farce after it took more than 90 minutes for clarity to emerge over whether clear favourite Speculative Bid had been judged to be a runner.

Speculative Bid, who left the stalls without his rider, was at one point declared a non-runner long after the weighed-in announcement was made. That caused fury among bookmakers, who had paid out winnings without making what they thought should have been a 20p in the pound Rule 4 deduction.

Then, following an earlier clarification public address statement that ultimately served only to make matters more mystifying, a further announcement was made that, for betting purposes, the 4-1 market leader should be regarded as having taken part with no deductions warranted.

That, however, flew in the face of a previous comment by BHA director of raceday operations and regulation Jamie Stier, who said: “The punters get refunded and successful bets are subject to Rule 4 because that horse has taken no part in the race.”


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