Ryan Winks banned after ignoring champion jockey’s betting warning

Ryan Winks ignored a warning from champion jockey Richard Johnson and placed bets on races, including on horses he rode himself.

The 40-year-old ex-professional put on nearly 800 bets with two firms while he held a licence to compete, a British Horseracing Authority hearing was told.

Representing himself, Winks, who won the 2016 Scottish Champion Chase on Chestnut Ben, said Johnson had once told him such activity was not permitted.

The panel, chaired by Philip Curl, heard Winks placed 798 bets on British racing with Paddy Power Betfair and BetVictor between May 2016 and the same month in 2019, when he relinquished his licence.

The jockey put 19 of them on his own mounts – and five on horses competing against runners trained by his father Peter.

Overall, the total stakes came to £2,701 and there was a net loss of £934.

Mr Curl pointed out to Winks that within three days of him getting his professional licence, there were bets on his Paddy Power Betfair account.

He told him he would place some when he was an amateur rider and continued to do so.

"I think it was Richard Johnson that pointed it out to me actually, because I was still betting as an amateur," Winks said.

"I just did it and he said 'you're not really supposed to be doing that.'

"I said 'well you know, the odd pound each-way on the (Grand) National is not going to hurt is it?' He went 'well no, it's against rules,' I went 'alright then.'

"Anyway I just sort of ignored it really."

In November 2016, six months after Barnsley-based Winks took out his professional licence, he opened a second account with BetVictor.

He said he did so with his dad as they were doing free bet offers – and on occasions he would put on money for him and friends.

The BHA launched an investigation after he posted online about two bets for the 2019 Cheltenham Festival.

"It's a bit like a drug addiction, it's quite addictive betting," Winks said.

"You always want that little bit of buzz, do you know what I mean? But I shouldn't have done it anyway, I admit that."

Winks, who had 27 winners over jumps and has been working as an assistant trainer to his father, was forced to retire in 2019 due to injury.

He broke his back in two places and damaged his neck in a fall at Sedgefield the previous autumn.

The former part-time singer said he struggled with his mental health in late 2016 and the betting was one form of escapism.

He added that he had lost three friends this year and advised anyone who was experiencing similar difficulties to seek help.

"I was suffering in silence for a good 12-18 months," he told the panel.

"When you're a professional sportsman it's a difficult position to be in, nobody can really prepare you for some of the pressure.

"There's millions of people watching you week in week out, scrutinising you, slagging you off on social media if you have done something wrong.

"Sometimes, I don't really use it as an excuse, but you turn to other things."

Winks admitted the breach of racing's Rule (D)53.2 and was disqualified for 21 months, from October 16 2020 to July 15 2022.

"It's fundamental to the integrity of horse racing that professional jockeys shall not bet – and it's important for the public perception in respect of that integrity that jockeys who breach the rules are punished," Mr Curl said.

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