A British eventing rider has been fined $1,950 (1,500 Swiss francs) for falsifying horse passport information in a rare fraud case to come before the FEI Tribunal.
Matthew Wright admitted that the vaccination records of his two eventers, MHS Twenty Twenty and The Artist Almost Famous, were forged. At first he said he had done this himself, but later said the vaccination entries had been faked by his groom Lukasz Orywal. The FEI Tribunal observed that the change in story meant it was difficult to impose a sanction, as Orywal is not FEI-registered and thus not subject to FEI jurisdiction.
The forgeries came to light at Osberton, UK in October 2016, after the two passports aroused the suspicions of FEI veterinary delegate Ali Butler, who spotted her own signature had been was faked in one of them. Other anomalies included missing batch numbers and the use of a stamp from a defunct veterinarian practice. Wright was able to provide a print out from the clinic about one horse’s vaccination record but not the other.
The issue was decided by negotiated settlement. The decision notice states: “The FEI takes any falsification very seriously and in case of such violations the message to the equestrian community must be crystal clear; it cannot be so that one can get away without any sanction only by blaming the falsifications on a third person. Especially since in this case, it is confirmed that there are two falsifications of the passports. The rule is clear, the person responsible for the horses and their passports is at all time the rider, Mr Wright.”
The penalty for fraud can be a fine of 1,000 to 15,000 Swiss francs and/or suspension of one month to life. While Tribunal observed this was a “serious falsification” it also felt the fine was proportionate to the offences.