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Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v A Turnwald - Reserved Decision dated 25 May 2020 - Chair, Mr T Utikere

Created on 25 May 2020

BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE

JUDICIAL CONTROL AUTHORITY

UNDER THE RACING ACT 2003

IN THE MATTER of the Rules of Greyhound Racing

BETWEEN RACING INTEGRITY UNIT

Informant

AND A TURNWALD

Respondent

Judicial Committee: Mr T Utikere (Chairman)

Mrs N Moffatt (Member)

Parties: Mr M Austin (for the RIU)

Mrs A Turnwald (as the Respondent)

RESERVED DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE DATED 25 MAY 2020

FACTS

[1] The Respondent has been charged with a breach of Rule 45.11 of the New Zealand Rules of Greyhound Racing.

[2] The relevant Rule is as follows:

Rule 45.11: Where the weight of a Greyhound recorded at a Meeting varies by more than one and a half (1.5) kilograms from the weight recorded in a Race in which it last performed that Greyhound shall be permitted to compete in the current Race but the Trainer of the Greyhound shall be guilty of an Offence unless permission has been granted under Rule 45.12.

[3] The specific Information alleged that at the Palmerston North Greyhound Racing Club’s Meeting on 12 May 2020, the Respondent:

Information No A10906

“presented BOYS GET PAID up 1.6kg on its previous race weight on 8 May 2020”.

[4] The Information had been signed by the Respondent who had endorsed the Information as not admitting the breach. The Committee held a hearing via teleconference on 21 May with Mr Austin and Ms Turnwald in attendance. A Reserved Decision was to issue, which we are now in a position to do so.

SUBMISSIONS

[5] Mr Austin advised that due to Covid-19, there had been a suspension of all greyhound racing in New Zealand for some time. BOYS GET PAID had last raced at Palmerston North on 23 December 2019 where the dog weighed 36.4kgs. It’s following start was at Wanganui on 8 May, where the weight records identified it weighed 1.0kgs down at 35.4kgs. The RIU submitted that there were no concerns expressed by the Kennel at that time. The Weight Card for the Race was produced for the Committee, as the Greyhound Racing New Zealand (GRNZ) Board had determined that the official record would be by way of collective Weight Records to avoid the need for various individuals to handle individual weight cards at race meetings at this time.

[6] On 12 May when the dog was presented to race at the Palmerston North Meeting it had weighed 1.6kgs more than its recorded weight at Wanganui four days earlier. Mr Austin stated that the dog had been put through the scales on two separate occasions, before the variance had been confirmed. The Stipendiary Stewards had no concerns with the accuracy of the scales, as there was a process to ensure they were accurate in the presence of a Steward and either an RIU colleague, the Head Kennelling Steward or a security guard. If there were any issues, then the Club would be notified. On this occasion the scales were checked without any concerns, so the charge was laid.

[7] In response to a question from Ms Turnwald the RIU clarified that there was a practice of reweighing a dog that had shown a significant weight swing upon request, and that it was Mr Austin’s understanding that the dog had been weighed twice.

[8] When the Respondent suggested that the dog was only weighed once on 8 May, Mr Austin believed that would then be because the dog was only down by 1.0kgs. It was accepted that on 5 and 6 May many dogs had not raced since 23 March, so there were a lot of weight variances. In explaining the local process adopted, Mr Austin identified that when dogs were weighed in the Central Districts, the weight was called out to confirm it. With reference to the weight that was recorded on 8 May, he suggested it was probable that the person kennelling the dog had not expressed any concerns about the weight as nothing had been recorded to that effect.

[9] Ms Turnwald explained that prior to Covid-19 BOYS GET PAID was going to be nominated. On the day of the races on 8 May, she had weighed the dog at home and he had weighed in at 36.5kgs. This was consistent with him usually weighing between 36.0kgs and 36.5kgs on raceday. He had travelled one hour to the races, had been emptied, had a pre-race drink and kennelled; and this would usually result in a 0.1-0.2kgs swing.

[10] On that occasion, the Respondent was not on course, but was represented by her daughter. The usual process on raceday would be for her to receive a Kennel Card or Racebook, but as that did not occur, she said there was no record of the dog’s weight provided to her daughter. As a result, Ms Turnwald expressed that she was not aware of any weight issue from 8 May, and more specifically was not aware of what weight was written down. She believed it was possible that a Kennel Steward had incorrectly recorded the weight on 8 May as it had happened in the past, citing the dog BLACK MAGS’ (Sammy Stone) weight on 23 March, 6 May and 12 May as an example of such human error for the Committee.

[11] While Ms Turnwald had accepted that her dog BOYS GET PAID had weighed in at 37.0kgs on 12 May, she took issue in that the weight on 8 May had been incorrectly recorded. In response to a question from the Committee she also clarified that her daughter had represented her kennels at race meetings quite often and on a regular basis.

REASONS FOR DECISION

[12] Ms Turnwald takes no issue with the weight that BOYS GET PAID returned when presented to race at Palmerston North on 12 May. What she does take issue with is the weight that was recorded at Wanganui on 8 May. The dog’s weight on that occasion is officially recorded in the GRNZ Records as 35.4kgs.

[13] Previous arguments expressed to mitigate a breach of this Rule relate to concerns about the accuracy of the scales (As identified in RIU v J McInerney Decision Dated 23 December 2019). We are satisfied that there is a process in place, that allows for a dog to be re-weighed upon request that was available to the respondent or her representative. When the dog was weighed on 8 May and 12 May that request was not made, yet it was available. The main view expressed by Ms Turnwald is that of weight inaccuracy based upon human error on 8 May. The time to express concerns about that weight was on 8 May, not once the weight had been recorded on an unchallenged basis.

[14] It is clear that in response to concerns regarding the current Pandemic, GRNZ have instituted a process where official weights are recorded by way of a singular Collective Weight Card, rather than individual Kennel Cards. We have reviewed the weight cards from both 8 May and 12 May Meetings. This change obviously accompanied the return to greyhound racing in New Zealand and licensed holders must display diligence in this regard. Ms Turnwald’s representative on track at Wanganui was familiar with the kennelling and weighing process.

[15] We are satisfied that the RIU have followed the correct processes in relation to ascertaining the weight of BOYS GET PAID at Palmerston North on 12 May. We are also satisfied, based on the evidence placed before us, that the dog was 1.6kgs up on its previous start, as recorded, thereby in breach of Rule 45.11

DECISION

[16] The Committee deems the charge to be proved.

PENALTY SUBMISSIONS

[17] The RIU have submitted that a penalty in line with the Minor Infringement level for a breach of Rule 45.11 is appropriate. Ms Turnwald also indicated that she had no issue with that level of fine being imposed.

REASONS FOR PENALTY

[18] As Ms Turnwald elected to deny the breach an Information was laid with the Judicial Control Authority. While it is open to the Committee to impose whatever penalty it considers as appropriate, we accept that an admitted breach of this Rule in these circumstances would be captured via the Minor Infringement System and attract a $100 penalty.

[19] We do not consider the reasons that the Respondent has advanced for denying the breach to be frivolous; so we see no reason to deviate from the level of fine identified in the Minor Infringement Schedule.

PENALTY

[20] Ms Turnwald is fined $100.

COSTS

[21] The RIU do not seek costs. There will be no order for costs in favour of the RIU or the JCA.

Signed at Palmerston North this 25th day of May 2020.

Mr Tangi Utikere

Chairman

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