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Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v B Williamson - Written Decision dated 18 December 2017 - Chair, Prof G Hall

Created on 18 December 2017

BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF

THE JUDICIAL CONTROL AUTHORITY

UNDER THE RACING ACT 2003

AND IN THE MATTER of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing

BETWEEN RACING INTEGRITY UNIT (RIU)

Informant

AND BRAD WILLIAMSON

Licensed Public Trainer

Respondent

Information: A9870

Judicial Committee: Prof G Hall, Chairman

Mr P Knowles, Member

Appearing: Mr S Renault, for the Informant

The Respondent in person

Date of hearing and oral decision: 8 December 2017

WRITTEN DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

[1] The informant, the RIU, has laid information A9870 with respect to the respondent, Mr Brad Williamson, alleging a breach of r 869(3)(g).

[2] This information alleges that “Mr Williamson (MCKENZIE MARA) drove in a manner capable of diminishing his chances of winning by contesting for the lead for a considerable period in the early stages” of Race 4, the AMERICAN IDEAL – LIMITED SPACES AVAILABLE MOBILE PACE at the Invercargill Harness Racing Club meeting held at Ascot Park on 27 November.

[3] Rule 869(3)(g) states: “No horseman in any race shall drive in any manner capable of diminishing the chances of his horse winning”.

[4] MCKENZIE MARA is trained by Mr Nathan Williamson and in the race finished 12th of 12, beaten 24.9 lengths from the winner MARTIN MCGUINNESS.

Informant’s Submissions

[5] Mr Renault commenced his submissions by stating that the race was run over 2200 metres. MCKENZIE MARA drew 2 on the front line. The horse showed gate speed and immediately challenged for the lead with CANARDLY REMEMBER (driven by Mr R May), which had drawn 1 on the front line. Mr Williamson pushed MCKENZIE MARA forward in an attempt to cross CANARDLY REMEMBER.

[6] Mr Renault demonstrated on the videos that racing into the first bend Mr Williamson can be seen to shift his body weight several times due to MCKENZIE MARA hanging inwards and placing CANARDLY REMEMBER in restricted room. He said Mr Williamson begins to drive his horse aggressively with the reins and whip, as he is unable to obtain the lead from CANARDLY REMEMBER. This challenge continues until near the 1350 metres where Mr Williamson takes a hold of his horse to allow her some respite.

[7] MCKENZIE MARA is left to race parked from this point on. The horse is unable to hold her position to the outside of CANARDLY REMEMBER from the 1000 metres and begins to weaken from this point onwards. She tires rapidly from the 700 metres.

[8] A post-race veterinary examination of MCKENZIE MARA revealed no abnormalities.

[9] The overall time for the race was 2.43.9, the last 800 metres was run in 60.4 and last 400 metres in 30.4. The lead time was approximately 41.5, which Mr Renault described as “a little faster than average”. The quarter from the 1800 metres to the 1400 metres was run in approximately 27.7. He said this time was exceptionally fast for this stage of the race, and with respect to the fastest race of the day, the time was 28.2.

[10] Mr Renault submitted that the manner in which MCKENZIE MARA was driven meant the horse’s chances of winning or finishing in a dividend-bearing placing were totally extinguished through the early stages of the race.

[11] The Stewards spoke with Mr May regarding his drive on CANARDLY REMEMBER. Mr May advised that his intention was to maintain the lead and he called out to Mr Williamson on the first bend that this was his intention. Mr Williamson, under questioning from the Stewards, stated he had not heard Mr May call out and said there was no communication between the drivers.

[12] Mr Renault said early in the race Mr May was quite vigorous in his efforts to obtain the lead. But around the bend and then in the back straight he had taken a hold of his horse and was very still in the sulky from this point.

[13] Mr Renault said that the concerns of the Stewards were that Mr Williamson had challenged for the lead for an extended period of around 850 metres from the start until near the 1350 metres. A challenge for this distance at a fast speed, he emphasised, would clearly have a detrimental effect on the racing performance of MCKENZIE MARA as the horse has been asked to work extremely hard in the early stages for a considerable distance without respite. Mr Williamson only takes a hold of the horse and ceases in his urgings near the 1350 metres.

[14] Mr Renault said Mr Williamson should have been aware that after the early challenge for the lead, Mr May’s intentions to maintain the lead on CANARDLY REMEMBER were clear. However, when the lead position is unavailable, Mr Williamson continues to apply pressure. He should have been content to sit in the parked position or ease in an attempt to obtain the trailing position.

[15] Mr Renault said at the outset of the race Mr Williamson had attempted to get the lead and Mr May had encouraged his horse to maintain its position. On the bend MCKENZIE MARA was hanging in and Mr Williamson had shifted his weight in the cart to deal with this. He said Mr Williamson was chasing his horse up till the 1350 metres when he turned his whip and took hold of MCKENZIE MARA. He said prior to this point in the race, either the trail or 3 back position was available to the respondent. There was time to slot in behind CANARDLY REMEMBER before Ms Tomlinson (FRANCO HUNTINGTON) moved forward, or the respondent could have slotted in behind her, as there was 7 or 8 lengths back to the fourth horse for a time.

[16] When questioned by the Stewards, the respondent explained that MCKENZIE MARA had been stabled at his parents’ property in Oamaru during Cup week while her trainer, Mr N Williamson, was campaigning horses in Christchurch. The horse had been performing well in training and the connections were expecting a good performance from her on the day. The instructions from the trainer were to have a look for the front as he was not expecting CANARDLY REMEMBER to show gate speed and, if possible, to get an easy lead then take a trail if challenged for the front, if it was the right horse to follow.

[17] Mr Renault said that the respondent followed the instructions perfectly at the start of the race. He asks the horse to show speed in an attempt to find the front. However, once it is clear that the horse is unable to cross CANARDLY REMEMBER, Mr Williamson does not think of a plan B. He relies solely on the trainer’s instructions and continues to attack for the front regardless of the consequences that this extended effort will have on the horse to finish the race off competitively.

[18] Mr Renault emphasised that Mr Williamson had other options available to him. He could have attempted to restrain and obtain the trail or he could have taken hold and stayed in the parked position.

[19] MCKENZIE MARA and CANARDLY REMEMBER cleared out from the remainder of the field. FRANCO HUNTINGTON was the only horse near the two front runners. That horse was chasing hard approximately 3 lengths behind while the remaining horses were a considerable distance behind.

[20] Racing down the back straight on the first occasion, Mr Renault said Mr May can clearly be seen to take a hold of his horse. When questioned regarding this, Mr May advised Mr Renault that he was trying to give his horse some respite. Mr Williamson, however, “felt the lead would be available, so he continued with his challenge.”

[21] When the Stewards said to Mr Williamson, “[S]urely you must’ve realised at some stage it [the lead] is not available and you take a hold and look for a different option. Instead, you've just challenged for a very long way. All that early effort, you could probably say that's taken its toll and you've stopped at the 600.” Mr Williamson said, “Yeah it has taken its toll.”

[22] When asked by Stewards, “Pressuring the horse for as long as you have, you didn’t feel that you were exerting it to the extent or outside the horse's ability as such?” Mr Williamson replied, “Probably, at the time not really. Looking back on it, yeah, I probably was a wee bit overly aggressive, no doubt I definitely have over-driven the horse. We were trying to get to the markers and pressed the issue a bit too long.”

[23] Mr Renault said the comments of Mr Williamson at this time demonstrate his remorse in driving his horse in this manner. He said it was important to note that even Mr Williamson accepted the horse had been driven too hard for too long a distance.

[24] When spoken to after the race, the trainer of MCKENZIE MARA, Mr N Williamson, the brother of the respondent, said that the horse had not trialled or had a workout this preparation as the horse performs well in a fresh state. He commented, however, this drive was “not ideal first up, in fact this was far from ideal first up.” And later he said, “It just went on too long”. Mr N Williamson also said, “Shit this is not good”, and, “As you know if you haven’t got racing under your belt she's gonna stop like that a long way from home. It just went on too long.” He added, “My comment is as the trainer, I'm not thrilled that I’ve got to be picking up the pieces.” When asked if she's not the bravest horse in the world (referring to an earlier comment by the respondent) a challenge of 850 metres is probably a bit far, Mr N Williamson said, “Correct, he's obviously far over-rated the horse.”

[25] Mr N Williamson said, “I haven’t spoken to Brad about the drive because I don’t feel it is the time or the place.” When questioned more about that, he said, “I just don’t want to say the wrong thing.”

[26] Asked if he was disappointed with the drive, Mr N Williamson said “Disappointed in hindsight as the trainer but I’m sure we have all had drives that we'd want back. I'd like to think Brad could look at that and say, yes I went on for too long, but I feel like....” Later he said, “Whatever, but at the end of the day, I think the biggest thing probably is Brad had a little bit of insight into how the horse was going and he probably felt it was going better than what she was but, in saying that, he still went too far.”

[27] Mr Renault submitted that the Committee should take careful note of these comments. He said Mr N Williamson is Southland’s leading trainer and a driver of considerable experience. He has driven in more than 5800 races and won 691 of these. He is one of, if not the, leading trainer in Southland and accordingly his comments should carry a lot of weight.

[28] Mr Renault described the rule as one of strict liability. To prove a charge under this rule, he believed the Stewards only had to prove that Mr Williamson had driven in a manner capable of diminishing MCKENZIE MARA’s chances. The speed in the early stages of the race was very quick. After such a prolonged challenge for the front the horse could not be competitive over the concluding stages because of the energy expended over the first part of the race.

[29] Mr Renault stated Mr Williamson is an experienced driver. He has driven in almost 2300 races. Unfortunately, on this occasion he had shown extremely poor judgement in challenging CANARDLY REMEMBER for a prolonged period and, in so doing, had extinguished his horse’s chances of winning the race.

[30] Mr Renault submitted it is the responsibility of every driver to give his or her horse every possible chance of winning the race. On this occasion Mr Williamson had failed to drive MCKENZIE MARA in a manner that gave his horse any chance of doing so. Mr Williamson pressured the leader for such a distance that his horse could not have reasonably been expected to finish the race off in a competitive fashion. It should have been very obvious to Mr Williamson at an early stage that Mr May was not prepared to relinquish the lead on CANARDLY REMEMBER, however Mr Williamson continued to pressure the leader, which left his horse with no finish. His horse was beaten some 700 metres from the finish and this was attributable to the driving tactics employed by Mr Williamson. His horse had not been to trials or workouts so was not race hardened — indeed the trainer's instructions were to try and get an easy lead and, if appropriate, hand up for a trail. Instead, Mr Williamson continued to put pressure on the leader and not surprisingly weakened out a long way from the finish. In the Stewards’ opinion, Mr Williamson diminished the chances of MCKENZIE MARA and failed to give his horse any chance of winning the race.

[31] Mr Renault concluded his case by stating the respondent had challenged for the lead for too long and as a consequence MCKENZIE MARA had had to work too hard.

Respondent’s Submissions

[32] Mr Williamson opened his defence by stating he did not believe Mr May had called out. He questioned Mr Renault as to this. Mr Renault responded that he had spoken to Mr May at trials earlier this week and Mr May had reiterated that he had. Mr Williamson emphasised he had not heard Mr May call.

[33] The respondent said MCKENZIE MARA had raced poorly in her last five starts. The horse had been dropping out in her races, despite the fact she had been wining at the trials. In her latest trial the horse had beaten TAS MAN BROMAC, a 10 race winner, and had previously beaten MACHJAGGER. The horse had raced in 14 trials and had won seven.

[34] Mr N Williamson had told him to lead out of the gate, as the horse runs well in front and to try to get a cheap 400 metres. MCKENZIE MARA usually raced well fresh up and had been kept fresh. The respondent said the time of the race was not that quick.

[35] MCKENZIE MARA had come north as a travelling companion for DARK HORSE. She had been stabled at his father’s property in Oamaru and had been working well. He had not driven the horse himself. He was confident of a good showing when he drew her because of the positive comments about the horse his dad had made to him. He said Nathan had said he had the horse ready to run a good race and the respondent believed the horse could win if she got the lead.

[36] Mr Williamson commented on the race. He said it was easy to run a good lead time when a horse has drawn barrier 2. He said halfway around the bend he had almost crossed Mr May but he had had to check off because his horse got too close to the legs of Mr May’s horse. He believed he was in front momentarily on the bend. However, his horse was hanging at this time and he had to check off Mr May. His horse was hanging again on the second bend.

[37] Mr Williamson said he also thought that Mr May was going to hand up half way down the back straight, as he appeared to have taken hold, and that was why he kept pushing forward at that time. He said MCKENZIE MARA felt lethargic the whole race. She was never once on the bridle. She had had a gear change. She had had a galloping hood last start.

[38] Mr Williamson said Mr May was known to be a “one run driver” and not an aggressive driver. He added this was the second slowest race for those horses that had won a race. He stated the horse that finished third had raced in the trail and had run the same sectionals as MCKENZIE MARA.

[39] The respondent said he had never driven MCKENZIE MARA before and in hindsight the horse had not handled the pressure. He believed 41.5 was not an overly fast sectional and that the horse had simply performed poorly on the day. This was not because of his drive. She had raced well below the standard required. He believed the horse was not competitive on the day and did not want to be a racehorse anymore. The horse had never given him the impression she would run in the top six at any stage of the race. He believed she would never have finished in the top 10 no matter how she was driven. MCKENZIE MARA had run as she had in her previous races. She had given up.

[40] Mr Williamson said he was confident before the race he had a winning chance, taking into account that MCKENZIE MARA had drawn 2 and the positive comments of his brother Nathan and his father. Nathan had said the horse would win if she repeated her workout performances as opposed to raceday form. He believed he had driven the horse as instructed.

[41] The respondent called Mr N Williamson to give evidence by way of the telephone. When questioned as to how he thought the horse had performed, he said the horse did not finish off the race at all well. He now believed the horse was not ready and she was not forward enough. He had been disappointed on the day as he thought she would have been competitive. He thought the tough run in the early stages may have contributed to her performance.

[42] On the day he was confident that if MCKENZIE MARA raced at her best, she could win. She had trialled like a superstar when in a fresh state. The plan was to go in fresh and get the best out of her in a race rather than a trial. The horse had raced well below par.

[43] The witness explained on the day he had over-estimated the time in which the race was run. While the first sectional was run at a good clip, he no longer believed it was a speed duel. 41.5 was far from excessive. He now believed MCKENZIE MARA should had performed better rather than she was over-driven. She was under-done on the day and had not been competitive. He had stepped up MCKENZIE MARA’s work and was now happy with her.

[44] Mr N Williamson said the horse had stopped so badly that on the day he had believed she had gone too hard too soon. MCKENZIE MARA should have been capable of running a 41.5 and finishing off the race. He had thought it must have been in the 37/38 bracket for her to stop the way she did.

[45] Mr N Williamson also stated he believed MCKENZIE MARA should have been able to run to the lead had she been race fit. That was a further reason why he could now see that she was under-done. MCKENZIE MARA had raced well below her best on the day. The race time of 2 43.9 was only par for the course.

[46] Mr N Williamson agreed with his brother that it was surprising that Mr May had not relented the lead as he was “a placid driver”. Like the respondent, he too had thought CANARDLY REMEMBER had very little gate speed. He believed MCKENZIE MARA was a far superior horse to CANARDLY REMEMBER and should have been able to beat that horse home.

[47] Mr Renault questioned Mr N Williamson as to why his comments differed from those to the Stewards on the day. He said he had not seen a replay on the day and had thought they had been “really flying”. He now realised that that had been an illusion.

[48] When questioned as to whether he thought challenging for the lead for 850 metres was excessive, he said it was a long way to challenge for the lead. He emphasised his brother had not driven the horse before and would not have known how she travelled in her races. He said the horse had been lethargic on the day.

[49] Mr N Williamson said Mr May appeared to have changed his mind re giving up the lead. He thought the respondent may have thought MCKENZIE MARA was a lazy horse when in fact she was not sharp on the day. She should have been able to go to the lead.

[50] When questioned by Mr Renault as to whether he thought the respondent had over-driven the horse, he said he thought the fault was more with the horse than with the driver. In hindsight, he now believed MCKENZIE MARA should have been able to do more than the respondent required her to do. She had showed no speed at any stage.

[51] When questioned by Mr Renault as to whether he thought the 1800 to 1400 in under 28 was excessive, Mr N Williamson said, “That is probably, but it was in the back straight when he was challenging for the lead”. He added, “If he was challenging for the lead then that was what he had to do. It was not excessive.”

[52] When questioned by the Committee as to how the horse felt in her preliminary, the respondent replied he did not like to ask too much of mares when they were warming up and he had not done so on this occasion. He did not want to wind MCKENZIE MARA up in her preliminary. She had felt fine and there was no sign of anything wrong. The first sign was when she was hanging in on Mr May on the first bend. From that point on she did not show anything. He could not get the mare to run at all from half way around the first bend.

[53] Mr Renault questioned the respondent as to why he challenged for the next 400 metres if he had concerns as to MCKENZIE MARA’s performance. He said the fact he had to check off Mr May’s wheel had not suggested to him at the time that the horse was not right. Half way down the back straight he was going to take hold and Mr May appeared to have had the same thought, so he contested for the lead for another 200 metres before easing back. He reiterated he heard no comment from Mr May to the effect he was going to stay in front at any point.

[54] The respondent accepted that at no time until the 1350 metres had he taken hold. He had pushed the horse on the first bend and did not pull her back. He had kept her going, and there were a couple with the stick. This was when he thought Mr May was going to hand up.

Summing up

[55] Mr Renault summed up by stating the respondent had challenged for the lead for far too long. It was much further than the distance in the cases of Cox and M Williamson. The respondent had made no effort to ease the horse. His only thought was to go forward. There was no Plan B. While the lead time was only a little faster than average, the 400 metres from 1800 to 1400 metres was too fast. The challenge was too long and was in breach of the rule.

[56] The respondent said it was positive not aggressive driving. The time was not that fast. It was a sunny day and the track was fast. Prior to the race he was not sure how the horse would go but he had received positive instructions and had tried to adopt tactics to fit. A positive drive was necessary. He did not have a stop watch so was not sure how quick they were going. He was not responsible for MCKENZIE MARA’s poor performance. However, he accepted it looked bad from a spectator’s point of view.

Decision

[57] When challenging for the lead on the first bend MCKENZIE MARA hung inwards and had to be checked off CANARDLY REMEMBER. The respondent attempted a second time to take the lead from Mr May when entering the back straight until about the 1350 metres mark when he took a hold and sat parked.

[58] Mr Williamson struck the horse once with the stick from the 1700 metres mark until the 1350 but continued to drive her out with his hands, and urging the horse by so doing.

[59] The sectional times are not overly quick. While there was no opening 800 metres sectional given, Mr Renault estimated the opening 750 metres was run in approximately 53.1. However, the quarter from the 1800 metres to the 1400 metres was fast.

[60] The respondent stated the mare felt lethargic throughout the race and she hung inwards on the bends. He believed the mare performed well below expectations regardless of the sectional times and was disappointing. He had been told that the horse had worked well during the week but in hindsight it appeared she might have been underdone. This was confirmed by Mr N Williamson, who said the mare had since improved with a heavier workload.

[61] This was the first time the respondent had driven the horse either at trials or races. There had also been a gear change from a galloping hood to an open bridle. The mare hung inwards on the first bend and on subsequent bends. She raced poorly throughout and stopped badly from the 500 metres mark.

[62] The respondent persevered with challenging for the lead after the initial challenge, with a second challenge from the 1750 to the 1350 metres mark and that is the point in the race that is the principal concern for us. The second challenge clearly showed that the horse was racing poorly and we believe the respondent should have taken hold much earlier.

[63] We have had regard to the comments of Mr N Williamson on raceday and his evidence given to this hearing. It is clear on raceday he believed the respondent had over-driven the horse. He has resiled somewhat from this in his evidence before us, stating that the times were not as quick as he had thought they were when questioned after the race by the Stewards, and that his view today was that MCKENZIE MARA was under-done. He still appears to accept, however, that the challenge for the lead continued for too long, even though his language today is more restrained than that on the day.

[64] This was a poor performance by the horse and, as an experienced driver, the respondent should have adjusted his tactics after the initial second challenge at some point early the back straight. If the horse felt lethargic and was not racing well, Mr Williamson should have desisted from his challenge for the lead after the horse was hanging on the first bend and, more especially, when MCKENZIE MARA was struggling to get in front of Mr May’s horse, despite Mr Williamson’s urgings.

[65] In short, we agree with Mr Renault that the challenge for the lead went on too long. We thus find that Mr Williamson has driven in a manner capable of diminishing MCKENZIE MARA’s chances.

[66] We find the charge under r 869(3)(g) to be proved.

Penalty

[67] Mr Renault commenced his penalty submission by referring to the 5th schedule of the Rules of HRNZ, which states:

5.1 The purpose of proceedings before a Judicial Committee or Appeals Tribunal includes:

(a) to ensure that racing is conducted in accordance with the code rules;

(b) to uphold and maintain the high standards expected of those participating in the sport of racing and the racing industry;

(c) to uphold and maintain the integrity of the sport of racing and the racing industry; and

(d) to protect the participants in the sport of racing, the racing industry, and the public.

[68] Mr Renault produced Mr Williamson’s record, which was clear under this rule. Mr Williamson has had 2294 lifetime drives: 142 drives this season; and 427 drives last season.

[69] The starting point in the JCA Penalty Guide for a breach of this rule is a 40 drive suspension or a $2000 fine. Mr Renault emphasised this was only a starting point and it was by no means the maximum penalty that was available to the JCA.

[70] He referred the Committee to previous cases regarding diminishing chances:

RIU v M Williamson 2015 – 4 days and $300

RIU v Cox 2015 – 4 days and $500

RIU v Reekie 2017 – 10 months suspension on appeal.

[71] The new JCA Penalty Guide came into effect on 1 May 2015, a month after the decisions in Williamson and Cox. (We note, however, both decisions refer to the starting point in the Penalty Guide.)

[72] Mr Renault submitted the type of driving displayed by Mr Williamson was “unacceptable under any circumstance and questions the integrity of the sport. For this reason, any penalty imposed must act as a deterrent to others and be a meaningful one.” He believed the appropriate penalty was a suspension.

[73] Mr Williamson’s record, Mr Renault said, demonstrated he drives in the Otago/Southland area, and, on occasion, in the mid Canterbury and Christchurch area, namely Addington. Looking at this season, Mr Williamson drives an average of 6-7 drives in the Southland area. In the Dunedin/Oamaru/Timaru area he has an average of around 4-5 drives. He has driven on only 8 occasions this season at Ashburton or in the Canterbury region. When driving there, he averages 1 drive, sometimes 2. He had not driven there in the last month.

[74] Mr Renault submitted the breach fell within the high range category. The distance of the challenge for the lead and the excessive speed were major factors that had to be reflected when imposing penalty. There were numerous people that had been affected by the respondent’s drive. The owners of the horse, the trainer of the horse who now has to “pick up the pieces”, punters who invested money on this race and Harness Racing as a whole. This type of driving was said to reflect “very poorly on our sport. These are aggravating factors and considerable weight must be given to these.”

[75] The only mitigating factor Mr Renault identified was Mr Williamson’s clear record. However, he said that considering the number of drivers charged with a breach of this rule was extremely low, it was not surprising the respondent has not been charged under this rule in the past.

[76] The Stewards believed that a suspension only should be the penalty in this case. This was a very serious charge and it would be inappropriate for a fine to be included as part of the penalty because of is serious nature.

[77] Mr Renault submitted that a suspension of not less than 50 drives was the appropriate penalty. The Stewards believed that all the Addington/Ashburton meetings should not be included as there had been numerous race meetings in the Canterbury region that Mr Williamson had not attended. He had not driven at Banks Peninsula this season, so it was not to be counted.

[78] Based on the respondent’s drives in the Southland region, the Stewards believed the correct way to assess the suspension was 6.5 drives per meeting. The appropriate penalty was a suspension of 9 days in the Otago/Southland and South Canterbury area. Any suspension imposed had to be meaningful and the Rules had to be enforced.

[79] Mr Renault identified the following meetings with related recommendations:

Addington 16 December (not counted)

Winton – 17 December (6.5 drives)

Forbury Park – 21 December (4-5)

Addington – 22 December (not counted)

Wairio – 23 December (6.5)

Ashburton – 24 December (not counted)

Gore - 27 December (6.5)

Banks Peninsula – 29 December (Not counted)

Winton – 31 December (6.5)

Central Otago – 2 January (6.5)

Roxburgh – 4 January (6.5)

Timaru – 5 January (4-5)

Wyndham – 6 January (6.5)

[80] Mr Williamson submitted that the penalty should be a fine only or if this was not to be the case, the fine component of the penalty was as large as possible, as he wished to continue to drive. He said his father had trotters “ready to go” and that he would be driving these in Canterbury. With respect to Ashburton, he accepted he did drive there often and he had not driven there during Cup week.

[81] The respondent said he intended to base himself in Cromwell over the Xmas / New Year period and to drive his dad’s team. He confirmed he did not drive for Mr N Williamson. He said when he drove down south he usually had a full book.

[82] We believe Mr Williamson is fairly described as an Otago / Southland driver, who drives on occasion in Canterbury. We intend to take all forthcoming South Island meetings into account but to weigh these accordingly. We take a figure of 7 drives for an Otago / Southland meeting and 2 for a Canterbury meeting.

[83] The Appeals Tribunal in J & C (19 October 2000) expressly refrained from establishing a tariff for a breach of (now) r 869(3)(g). Each case has to depend on its own facts, but that Tribunal identified as a particularly relevant factor, the extent to which the chances of the horse were diminished by the particular driving tactics adopted. Also of relevance to penalty, was the degree of experience of the drivers involved. Ready admission of fault and any previous breaches of the rule were also to be weighed.

[84] We are aware that the penalties in Williamson and Cox were a combination of a fine and a suspension. Contrary to Mr Renault, Mr Williamson has submitted that this is appropriate in his case. We first dismiss the notion that a fine only is the appropriate penalty. While we do not agree with Mr Renault that this breach is at the top end of the scale of seriousness, it certainly is towards the higher end of mid range. While it is the 400 metres from the 1800 to the 1400 metres that is of especial concern to us, it is evident that the challenge for the lead continued for far too long. The chances in the race of MCKENZIE MARA were extinguished by Mr Williamson’s actions. There is no doubt that Mr Williamson, who as we have noted is an experienced driver, simply asked too much of the horse. It was a very poor drive. On the day and in the race in question the respondent has displayed a lapse in horsemanship and judgement. We believe the Mr Renault is correct when he said actions such as those of the respondent do not show the industry in a good light. The principles in the Fifth Schedule have application in this case. A fine would simply not reflect the gravity of the breach.

[85] A small upwards adjustment to the 40-drive JCA starting point is appropriate in the interests of accountability, denunciation and general deterrence. We take a starting point of 48 drives. Mr Williamson’s failure to admit the breach is of course not an aggravating factor but, in contrast, is the absence of a mitigating one. After a discount for Mr Williamson’s very good driving record, especially when regard is had to the fact he is an extremely busy driver, the penalty is 42 drives.

[86] We have regard to Mr Williamson’s submission that part of the penalty, at least, be a fine. We also note that the penalties in both Williamson and Cox and in many of the cases cited in those decisions, were a combination of a suspension and a fine. We impose a penalty that is the equivalent to 42 drives. The suspension is one of 34 drives and, in addition, Mr Williamson is fined the sum of $400.

[87] There is no award of costs.

[88] The meetings encompassed by the suspension and our allocation of drives is:

Addington 16 December (2)
Winton – 17 December (7)
Forbury Park – 21 December (7)
Addington – 22 December (2)
Wairio – 23 December (7)
Ashburton – 24 December (2)
Gore - 27 December (7)

Dated at Dunedin this 18th day of December 2017.

Geoff Hall, Chairman

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