Horsebox driver banned for "road rage" and swearing at employees

An employee in the racing industry drove a horsebox into people directing traffic outside a track and used abusive language towards officials, an enquiry heard.

Nigel Wakefield, travelling head lad to Mick Appleby, was banned from attending racecourses for four months after he admitted what he had done.

After the horsebox incident outside Chelmsford Racecourse in 2017, Wakefield pleaded guilty in the city's crown court to common assault and driving without due care and attention – and received a fine.

His legal representative Adam Flacks said: "In respect of the road traffic incident that gave rise to the breach of the old (BHA) rules, the panel will have seen that Mr Wakefield pleaded guilty in criminal proceedings to charges of driving without due care and attention and common assault.

"In his interview as Mr Harland (BHA representative in the case) referred to with the BHA on the 30th June 2020, he did acknowledge his actions constituted road rage and that it shouldn't have happened."

Wakefield admitted conduct prejudicial to horse racing and breaching a rule which states a person must not abuse a BHA official, verbally or otherwise.

The case heard Wakefield did not respond when the authority investigated the Chelmsford incident – and told an employee: "I'll tell you what you can do, you can go and get out of my f*****g face."

At Nottingham Racecourse on October 14, he told those running the Covid-19 check-in desk they were "f*****g amateurs".

The disciplinary panel was told when they complained to stewards, Wakefield accused the officials of lying.

Harland said Wakefield admitted his job causes him "significant stress" and added: "The BHA's view is that at present Mr Wakefield is a liability to others when he attends racecourses and this needs to be reflected in any penalty that is imposed.

"Mr Wakefield needs to take appropriate steps to remedy that.

"There is no excuse for running someone over or for telling several people where to go when they were doing their jobs."

Flacks told the enquiry his client was committed to attending an anger management course, but had not been able to afford to do so as of yet.

He said he had worked in racing since the 1980s and driven horseboxes since 2013 – four years before the Chelmsford incident.

"Since then Mr Wakefield has attended hundreds of raceday events without incident and Mr Wakefield is not therefore someone in my submission who causes trouble wherever and whenever he attends racing," Flacks added.

But the panel ruled that a four months disqualification was necessary – with two months to run immediately.

"You can't go around treating other people in the racing industry, who are not fools, who are also people who are passionate about horses and racing, you can't go around in that way being verbally abusive and insulting," panel chair James O'Mahoney told him.

The other half of the punishment will be suspended for three months and activated if Wakefield commits a further offence.

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