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Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v C Negus - Written Decision dated 26 March 2020 - Chair, Mr S Ching

Created on 27 March 2020



IN THE MATTER of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing

IN THE MATTER of Information No. A13161                                                                             
BETWEEN P WILLIAMS, Stipendiary Stewart for the Racing Integrity Unit


AND C NEGUS, Licensed Amateur Driver


Judicial Committee:             S C Ching (Chairman) 

                                                R G McKenzie (Member)

Date of Hearing:                    20 March 2020

Present:                                  N Ydgren, Chief Stipendiary Steward (for the Informant)

                                                C Negus, Respondent

Date of Oral Decision:          20 March 2020

Date of Written Decision:     26 March 2020          

PENALTY DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE                                       

The Charge

[1]     Information No. A13161 alleges that Mrs Negus, as the driver of HIGHLAND REIGN in Race 1, Airpark Canterbury (Amateur Drivers) Mobile Pace, at the meeting of NZMTC held at Addington on the 24th day of January 2020, “failed to drive her horse out to the end of the race, when having a reasonable chance of running second” in breach of Rule 868 (3) of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing.

The Rule

[2]     Rule 868 (3) provides as follows:

(3)   Every horseman shall drive his horse out to the end of the race if he has any reasonable chance of running first, second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth.

The Plea

[3]     Mrs Negus had endorsed the Information that she admitted the breach which she confirmed at the hearing. Mrs Negus also confirmed she understood the Rule she was being charged under.     

Evidence / Submissions of the Informant

[4]     Mr Ydgren gave evidence and presented video films of the incident. He showed Mrs Negus, driving HIGHLAND REIGN, in a 3 to 4 wide position passing the 300m. Mr Ydgren pointed out Mrs Negus driving out with what the Stewards perceived to be acceptable vigour throughout the final straight until reaching the 50m where she leaned forward and ceased her urgings with her horse.

[5]     Mr Ydgren said there was no further action on her part that was discernible or demonstrable and with the second placed horse beating HIGHLAND REIGN by a nose it was reasonable to assume that with a little more vigour, HIGHLAND REIGN had a reasonable chance of finishing in 2nd place.

Submissions of the Respondent

[6]     Mrs Negus stated that the 2nd placed horse was already in front of hers when they reached the 50m. She said that it was very hard for a horse like HIGHLAND REIGN, knowing her history, to come back again. Mrs Negus said she moved forward and spoke to the horse saying “c’mon c’mon” in encouragement. She also stated that the films show her left hand moving quietly but accepts she could have done more.

Reasons for Decision

[7]     Mrs Negus having admitted the breach, the breach is therefore found proved.

The Penalty Rule

[8]     The penalty Rule is Rule 1003 (1) which provides:

Every person who commits a breach of any Rule shall . . . be liable to the following penalties:

(a)         a fine not exceeding $10,000.00; and/or

(b)         suspension from holding or obtaining a licence for a period not exceeding 12 months; and/or

(c)         disqualification for a period not exceeding 12 months.

Penalty Submissions

[9]     Mr Ydgren informed the Committee that the JCA Penalty Guide recommends, where a second place is involved, a starting point of a 12-drive suspension or a $600 fine. He said that there were no factors of aggravation, only factors of mitigation.

[10]   Mrs Negus, he said, has admitted the breach, and has a good record in regard to this Rule. Mr Ydgren submitted that the 12-drive suspension could be reduced by 4 drives for the mitigating factors to an 8-drive suspension.

[11]   Mr Ydgren stated that Mrs Negus, through Mr Negus had advised him that she had a drive in an Invitational Amateur Race at Cambridge on 23 April.

[12] Mr Ydgren submitted that a suspension of one month, from the conclusion of racing at Waimate on 22 March up to and including 22 April, and a fine of $300 which would equate to an 8-day suspension or a $400 fine for Mrs Negus be considered as penalty.

Respondents Submissions on Penalty

[13] Mrs Negus confirmed she was an invited driver for the Invitational Amateur Drivers race at Cambridge which she said was part of a competition series. She added she had already purchased tickets and accommodation for the event and hoped to able to drive in the race. She confirmed she had a drive at the Waimate meeting on Sunday 22 March.

Reasons for Penalty

[14]   The JCA penalty Guide provides a starting point of a $600 fine or a 12-drive suspension for a mid-range breach of this Rule where second placing is determined to have been lost. We have established that this breach is mid-range with no aggravating factors to warrant an uplift in penalty. Mr Ydgren has submitted that a penalty of a 1-month suspension and a fine of $300 be considered as penalty due to the opportunity for Mr Negus to drive in the Invitational Amateur race at Cambridge on 23 April. He equated this penalty to an 8-drive suspension or a $400 fine. Amateur driver suspensions are calculated at 2 drives per month. Mrs Negus confirmed to the Committee that she was invited to drive in the Amateur Driver Championship race at Cambridge on 23 April.

[15] The Committee have decided, on this occasion, that Mrs Negus’ request to be able to drive in this invitational race is a rare opportunity and consider it exceptional enough to take it into consideration when determining penalty.

[16]   In adopting the Starting Point of a 12-drive suspension or $600 fine, we find there are no aggravating factors to consider, therefore no uplift in penalty, is warranted. There are however mitigating factors to consider, being Mrs Negus’ admission of the breach and her good record. This we determined warranted a combined discount which we set at 2 days or $100.

[17] In order for Mrs Negus to fulfil her invitational race engagement we have decided that a suspension of 1 month and in addition a fine of $400 be imposed. We equate this penalty to a 10-drive suspension.


[18]   Mrs Negus is suspended from the conclusion of racing 22 March up to and including 22 April 2020. In addition, Mrs Negus is fined the sum of $400.  

S C CHING                                 


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