Every year, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) hosts the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) in Las Vegas. The NHC is the world’s most prestigious handicapping tournament for horseplayers, and is used to crown the “Horseplayer of the Year.”
An event based on horse betting may raise eyebrows by skeptics–from the outside looking in. There does seem to be a lot of room for foul play.
However, the event has been held yearly since 2000 and there has never even been a single disqualification from the tournament – until now.
Jonathan Kinchen, one of the most prominent competitors in the NHC, was disqualified during the event after it became clear he was not at the event at all. Under NTRA rules, the competitor has to be on-site placing the bets themselves.
So, after pictures leaked of Kinchen in Florida at the time the NHC was underway, competitors became suspicious when they saw Kinchen was still competing.
Kinchen was disqualified from the NHC while it was taking place, but that wasn’t all. The NTRA released a statement on Twitter just the other day, proclaiming Kinchen’s suspensions from all NHC competitions for two years.
So, what was Kinchen thinking?
After Kinchen was disqualified from the event, many fans rushed to the rule book to see what exactly went wrong. The first rule that caused Kinchens suspension is rule 14, which states that all contestants “must be present to win.”
Kinchen, along with many fans, believed that rule has a loophole because it does not say “must be present to play,” it just says “present to win.” However, as soon as that loophole was opened, it was closed.
Rule 95 in the NHC rule book clearly states:
“All wagers must be placed personally, and in person, by the contest player. To avoid being disqualified, no person shall, directly or indirectly, act as an intermediary, transmitter, or agent in placing wagers for the contest player, unless prior authorization is given by NHC officials.”
“Prior authorization,” you say…so we still have a chance!
Kinchen did request to have his bets run for the contest while he remained in his Las Vegas hotel room due to COVID-19 concerns. That request was granted by the NTRA. But according to sources involved in the situation, it still required him to be in his hotel room.
So, when pictures of Kinchen at Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup in Florida were released, the NHC knew Kinchen was not in his room, and immediately disqualified him.
The NTRA’s statement
On Feb. 8, 2022 (two weeks after the NHC took place) the NTRA released a statement regarding Kinchen’s suspension. However, by just taking a quick look at the statement you’ll notice a key thing is missing–Kinchen’s actual name.
The brief, yet thorough, statement refers to Kinchen as “the player disqualified from the 2022 National Horseplayers Championship…” instead of just addressing him by name. NTRA Chief Operating Officer Keith Chamblin said the organization didn’t mention him by name because they did not want to take the spotlight away from the tournament’s winner, David Harrison.
“It really doesn’t matter who the individual was. We like to focus on the new champion…”
While done with good intentions, not mentioning Kinchen’s name does come off as a bit odd. Kinchen is one of the biggest names in horseplaying and news of his disqualification spread like wildfire–so everyone already knew who the NTRA was talking about.
Not mentioning Kinchen’s name further clouds the transparency from horseplaying that bettors and fans have been long looking for.