This is a statement of my recollection of what took place between June 2013 and July 2013 involving myself and Mark Hobson.
My name is Darren Egan. After the winter of 2012-13, I returned to work for [trainer] Ron Harris in March 2013. That June, I ended my employment due to a number of disagreements affecting our professional relationship. I moved to Newmarket, England, in early June and stayed at [former jockey] Eddie Ahern’s house for about three weeks before finding my own apartment for my girlfriend and myself.
I was interested in pursuing employment at another stable in Newmarket. For this to happen, the BHA requires that the previous employer release my contract. However, when I made that request of Mr Harris, he stated that, if I tried to sign on with any other trainer, he would stop me from riding, and said he would never release it.
I continued to ride races and to ride work for free in the mornings to ensure that I would get rides in the afternoon races. This was my only source of income at the time and I was barely getting by financially.
Mr. Harris was still receiving a percentage of my earnings, even though I was not working for him, and I did not confront him about it because I [was worried about the effect it might have on my career]. I later told [jockey] Adam Kirby and a few of my other friends what was happening, including Neil Allen, my agent at the time, who helped me get in contact with the trainer Tim Pitt.
Mr. Pitt agreed to help me, and contacted Mr. Harris. After their conversation, Mr. Pitt advised me that he was no longer willing to continue assisting me.
Shortly thereafter, I met with trainer John Butler. After I explained the situation, Mr. Butler agreed to work with me to help rectify the situation. Upon his suggestion, I contacted [the] BHA and advised them that I was no longer working for Mr. Harris and would be signing on with Mr. Butler.
The BHA licensing representative explained that, since I was no longer working for Mr. Harris, I would not be eligible to ride until my employment with Mr. Butler was official. I agreed to comply.
Later, while attending the meeting to determine why I discontinued my employment with Mr. Harris, I was advised that I was under investigation for suspicious betting patterns, and that I would be interviewed separately in relation to that investigation.
I feel that I [should never have been exposed to corrupt people and put under] such extreme pressure. If I had been under Mr. Harris’ guidance instead of under his scrutiny, I believe this incident could have been avoided. I cannot help but feel like the victim in all of this as I was a 21-year-old boy in a foreign country.
Mr. Harris ... had already earned a substantial sum of money from my earnings, along with likely having his best two years of training while I was employed with him. [I feel this helps explain why] he [appeared to work] hard to keep me from working with anyone else. I never spoke up to the authorities because I [was worried what might happen]. This can be confirmed with Tim Pitt, Neil Allen and John Butler, along with Adam Kirby and possibly a few other jockeys.
Further to my statements above, when I first moved to Newmarket, while living at Eddie Ahern’s house, I met a man by the name of Mark Hobson. Mark was introduced to me as a businessman with his own company. He explained that he was interested in sponsoring a jockey through his company and asked if I knew of anyone who might be interested.
Due to my desperate financial situation, I jumped at the chance, and we arranged to meet a few days later to discuss the details of the sponsorship. During our meeting, we agreed on a sponsorship of £5,000 and his company’s branding on my riding breeches for 12 months. The following day, he presented me with £1,000 in an envelope, and a small phone, stating that he would pay the £4,000 balance when the paperwork was complete.
When I asked what the phone was for, he said it would allow me to contact him anytime. I realized that it would be in breach of the rules of racing if I was to use the phone, however I needed the money desperately, and so I accepted it, along with the envelope. That was the first mistake I made.
My second mistake was answering the phone when it rang several hours later. I knew this phone would lead to trouble, so I decided to leave it in my apartment, where I wouldn't always be home to answer it. However, the times I did answer it, Mark would talk about complications with the paperwork and the fact that his company didn't have a logo. He stated that our process would be delayed, as he was working on their branding.
I obviously hadn't received the other £4,000 since the paperwork wasn’t complete. He would call almost every day, asking me if I was riding anything good or anything worth a bet. Jockeys hear this often, even from complete strangers, so it didn’t seem out of the ordinary. I was well reserved in the conversations about my rides.
When I suggested we meet to finalize the paperwork and the payment, Mark continued to come up with excuses. I endured this all in hopes of securing the sponsorship. £5,000 was a lot of money and would have changed my life at the time. This all happened within a 4-5 week timespan between June and July 2013.
As further evidence of my claims, the CEO of the PJA, Mr. Paul Struthers, was working with me in this case. I was in regular contact with Mr. Struthers; he was aware of my situation and was willing to help in any way possible.
It took the BHA SEVEN weeks to grant me a licence after I had called up and explained I was no longer working for Mr. Harris. Seven weeks is a long time to be on hold and unable to ride races, which at the time was my only income.
I asked Mr. Struthers if he could help me financially as I was really struggling with bills and rent. He agreed to try and help me financially through the PJA but could not come up with any funding, which ultimately resulted in me having to leave my apartment in Newmarket.
I felt abandoned by the very system I was faithful to. By then it had gotten into the public domain that I was under investigation for CORRUPTION CHARGES and, to add insult to injury, [it] destroyed my reputation almost instantly. As further evidence, my [landlady] Jenny Simcock was witness to the fact that found it necessary to I leave her residence due to financial difficulty. She has stated this in an interview with the BHA.
So please explain to me why I was so desperate for financial help if I was receiving any kind of reward for passing information? Surely if I was receiving any financial reward from any individual for inside information, I would not need to look for help from the PJA. This was extremely embarrassing for me, but I felt I had no other choice at the time.
Finally, after the PJA found they were unable to help further, [I was] left with no choice but to abandon my dreams of being a top jockey in the UK.
I accept responsibility for my decisions in this matter and am aware that accepting the phone from Hobson was in breach of the rules of racing. I didn’t see any other way out of my financial situation at the time. I never called Mark to share my opinions on what horses might have a good chance of winning, and I never once took any type of reward for information from any individual whilst holding a jockey licence.
I have never been in contact nor could I even describe who Philip Langford is. To say that I conspired to fix races with Mr. Langford is absurd. This may be what the BHA investigators would like to believe in order to justify this investigation, but the evidence does not even make sense.
He has never tried to contact me, and it is my belief that Hobson and Langford were working together to exploit me. This is clear by their Betfair accounts and by their phone contact.
To think that I would try and pass information about some horses that were 16-1 to 20-1 for a reward is astounding. By the betting patterns that the BHA have recorded for this case, it is clear that the information that the Betfair account holders were receiving was not solid information, since they even lost on some bets.
Further, the fact that Mr. Hobson was taking smaller bets indicates that he was not confident but rather had a small insight into my horses through our friendship.
Mr. Langford on the other hand had substantially larger liabilities, which would indicate he had more information to go on. In his reports to the BHA, he stated that he was using some kind of betting software and studying form. This is evidence that he was using his own research to determine his bets and would collaborate with Mr. Hobson to confirm his own research.
I never questioned Laura Pike about any of her rides, although we were in a brief intimate relationship together. Laura and I would travel occasionally [to go] racing together, but our relationship was a secret one. We would obviously talk about our rides that day, as is common within the weighing room jockeys, but we would never even imagine taking advantage or exploiting this. After all, we were colleagues and friends.
I cannot apologize enough for the mistakes I have made in the past. I can only look to the future with optimism in correcting my mistakes, and I believe this is the first step. I am forever sorry for not coming forward with this earlier, and greatly sorry in wasting BHA time and resources. I accept the fact I passed inside information, although I was manipulated to do so. This information was minimal and not meant to increase anybody’s chances on a betting factor.
I understand that the BHA has the responsibility to find out exactly what happened between June and July 2013. This is my reason for coming forward with this statement. Otherwise it would all be hearsay, as nothing could be proved unless you are very, very open minded and believe every part of the BHA’s case; which of course is one sided and in their own best interest.
RE: OPENING NOTE 30
I would like to see evidence proving the BHA claim that I ever stated to anyone regarding any horse, “it will not win”. This is untrue.