Darren Egan: “Everybody makes mistakes, that’s how we learn.”
PICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)
By Jon Lees 12:37PM 15 SEP 2016
DARREN EGAN has told the Racing Post he has not given up hope of resurrecting his career as a jockey even if he has to wait until the expiry of a 12-year corruption ban that prohibits him from riding until November 2027.
The 24-year-old former apprentice was handed one of the stiffest penalties ever imposed on a jockey when found guilty by a BHA disciplinary panel last November of involvement in a conspiracy, in which he was found to have stopped two horses who had been laid by gambler Philip Langford in 2013 to win more than £50,000.
But, speaking from Maryland in the US, where he has been given a work-riding job by training legend Michael Dickinson, Egan said: “I’ve no doubt in my mind I’ll ride in another race, it’s going to happen.”
Egan was an up-and-coming jockey who was in contention for the 2012 Flat apprentices’ title until breaking his collarbone the same season, and he stopped riding later the following year, which had begun with victory in the Lincoln on Levitate before it emerged he was under investigation for passing information for reward.
The disciplinary panel decided Egan had been involved with Langford in a lay betting conspiracy that “struck at the heart of the sport”. The disqualification prevented him from working for licensed trainers in Britain and cost him a work-riding job in California, where the ban was reciprocated and his licence revoked.
But he has found a role that keeps him in racing without breaching the terms of his ban after accepting a job at former British champion jumps trainer Dickinson’s private Tapeta Farm.
“I love what I’m doing,” said Egan. “I’m still working in racing, still riding racehorses. This is something I’ve done since I was a kid. This isn’t just a hobby or a way of making money, it’s a passion, it’s a fire that burns inside you.
“Jockeys don’t have a very long career span, unless they’re the cream of the crop, and when they get to the end of their career they’re stranded. I’m going to jump the queue and take this as an opportunity to do something else in racing and build a business and have something to work with, like breezing, breaking, pre-training. It just needs some dedication and hard work.”
He added: “I’m not deterred by what’s happened. It has been disheartening and a struggle, but I’ve always been very optimistic, whatever circumstances in life may be. I’m not out of the water yet but I’m getting there.”
‘I’m not a bad person’
Egan, who was in California at the time of his inquiry, did not attend the hearing but in correspondence with the BHA denied ever having stopped a horse and claimed to have neither met nor spoken to Langford, who was disqualified indefinitely.
In his statement he admitted accepting £1,000, which he said was for sponsorship, “because I needed the money desperately”, and a mobile phone from Mark Hobson, who he believed was working with Langford “to exploit me”.
He added: “I may have made mistakes but I’m not a bad person. Everybody makes mistakes, that’s how we learn. The key to being happy is being able to admit to your mistakes, although what the BHA have to say about my mistakes and what I’d have to say would be two very different things. I know what I’ve done, and that’s how I sleep at night.
“It’s unfortunate I can’t ride races for a while, but 12 years won’t be long skipping by.”