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Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v G Cooksley - Written Decision dated 17 December 2018 - Chair, Mr A Dooley

Created on 19 December 2018



AND IN THE MATTER of the New Zealand Rules of Racing



AND Mr G Cooksley


Judicial Committee: Mr A Dooley (Chairman), Mr A Smith (Committee Member)

Appearing: Mr A Coles – Stipendiary Steward, Informant

Mr M Williamson – Senior Stipendiary Steward

Mr J Oatham – Chief Stipendiary Steward

Mr G Cooksley – Licensed Rider of SO GLORIOUS

Venue: Judicial Room, Ellerslie Racecourse

Date of Hearing and oral decision: 16 December 2018

Date of Written Decision: 17 December 2018


Mr G Cooksley appeared before this Judicial Committee prior to race 1 on the following charge:

Information Number A11255 filed by Stipendiary Steward Mr A Coles alleged:

THAT on 16 November 2018 at a race meeting conducted by Whangarei Racing Club at Ruakaka in Race 4 Mr GJ Cooksley permitted his mount SO GLORIOUS to shift in early in the final straight when insufficiently clear of BOUNDTOBEHONORED which clipped heels and fell. Brought down as a result was TANTALISING. An alleged breach Rule 638(1)(d) of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Rule.

The Rule reads as follows:

Rule 638(1) - “A Rider shall not ride a horse in a manner which the Judicial Committee considers to be: … (d) careless.”

Mr Cooksley confirmed that he understood the Rule and that he did not admit the charge.

Mr Coles presented a signed authority from the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) General Manager Mr Godber to authorise the charge against Mr Cooksley dated 7 December 2018.

Copies of the Information, the letter from Mr Godber, and the appointment of the Judicial Committee were all tabled. Mr Cooksley confirmed that he had received the relevant documentation.

Mr Coles served this Information on Mr Cooksley on 15 December 2018.

There were no witness briefs of evidence supplied in advance by the Informant.

In response to a question from the Committee, Mr Cooksley said that provided the video films were the same ones shown to him on race day coupled with the NZTR website films then he had seen the relevant video films.

The Committee outlined the procedure for this defended hearing and there were no questions or objections raised.


Just prior to the commencement of the hearing the Stewards advised the Committee that the normal raceday “hawk eye” video footage of this incident had mistakenly been deleted.

The Stewards were satisfied that there were sufficient video films for the hearing to proceed.

Mr Coles advised the Committee that he would be calling Mr Rusof, the rider of BOUNDTOBEHONORED as a witness.

Mr Williamson demonstrated the alleged incident using the available video films. He initially identified all the horses named in the Information. He showed that SO GLOROIOUS was racing in a 3 wide position entering the final straight. He said that the horse ran wide on the bend and presented a gap for BOUNDTOBEHONORED. He stated that Mr Cooksley directed his mount inward and in doing so this crowded BOUNDTOBEHONORED and placed that runner in restricted room. He said that Mr Cooksley made no attempt to straighten his mount and he shifted in reasonably abruptly. He said at no stage did Mr Cooksley show a duty of care.

At this point Mr Cooksley told the Committee that on 16 November, the day of the incident, he was not shown the head on film that Mr Williamson had just demonstrated. He said that he was shown the 45 degree angle and the side on film but was adamant he had not viewed the head on film of the incident.

Mr Coles was the Chairman of Stewards on the day of the alleged breach and he disputed Mr Cooksley’s contention regarding the head on video films. Mr Coles added that there was no back on film on the race day.

In response to a question from the Committee, Mr Cooksley said he objected that the head on film had not been shown to him on 16 November. He added that he would like to view the head on film by himself.

After hearing this evidence regarding the head on film the Committee quickly determined that the most appropriate action was to adjourn the hearing so Mr Cooksley could view the head on film independently.

After viewing the head on film Mr Cooksley immediately sought to change his plea. This was granted and accordingly the Information was amended and signed by Mr Cooksley.

The Committee invited Mr Williamson to conclude his evidence. He showed the side on video film and stated that at no stage was Mr Cooksley clear of BOUNDTOBEHONORED which clipped heels and fell. As a result TANTALISING was brought down. He estimated that Mr Cooksley and his mount was 1 length clear of BOUNDTOBEHONORED at the time of the incident.

Mr Cooksley said that he shifted in half a horse width and that BOUNDTOBEHONORED touched his hind quarters. As a result that “turned” his mount in. He added that if Mr Rusof hadn’t shifted out the fall would not have occurred.

When questioned by the Committee, Mr Cooksley accepted that if he was his own length and one other length clear when crossing the fall would not have occurred.


As Mr Cooksley has now admitted the breach the Committee found the charge proved.


Mr Coles referred to the JCA Penalty Guidelines which states that the starting point for careless riding causing a fall is 4 weeks. He noted that there was some confusion over the video films that were shown on 16 November. He produced Mr Cooksley’s riding record which showed 1 previous breach for careless riding in the last 12 months. This occurred on 19 December 2017. He submitted that the penalty should reflect the careless riding which caused the fall.

Mr Cooksley reiterated that he shifted in only half a horse width and he believed that Mr Rusof rode out towards him. He raised the point that despite the incident happened on 16 November 2018 he was only served the Information on 15 December 2018. He said that this placed him at a disadvantage because of the upcoming important Christmas / New Year race meetings.

When invited to comment on the delay serving the Information, Mr Coles said that both Mr Rusof and Ms Johnson, the affected riders in the fall, were both unavailable due to the injuries they suffered on the race day. He added that the Stewards endeavoured to have the hearing heard on a raceday to avoid any costs for Mr Cooksley.

Mr Cooksley confirmed that he had an engagement at Whangarei RC on 18 December and any proposed suspension could start after that date.

In response to a question from the Committee, Mr Oatham advised the Committee that Mr Cooksley has had 110 rides in the last 12 months.


The Committee carefully considered all the evidence and submissions presented.

The JCA Penalty Guide starting point for careless riding resulting in a fall is 4 weeks. This came into effect from 1 November 2017 after consultation with key stakeholders in the industry. We adopted this starting point.

It is important to note that under the revised Penalty Guide 2017 there has been no rider charged with careless riding resulting in a fall.

The previous penalties imposed offer little assistance because the old published Guidelines did not address careless riding resulting in a fall. Further `the old Guidelines required Judicial Committees to include only meetings where the charged rider intended to or would normally ride at. Under the new Guidelines all Jockeys are treated as National Riders.

When independently reviewing the video footage the Committee found that near the 300 metres Mr Cooksley allowed his mount to shift in 1 horse width when only ¾ of a length clear of BOUNDTOBEHONORED. It was evident that Mr Cooksley continued to ride his mount forward and there was solid contact between SO GLORIOUS and BOUNDTOBEHONORED prior to that runner clipping heels. At the point where Mr Cooksley caused the fall SO GLORIOUS was racing directly in front of BOUNDTOBEHONORED. There was no video evidence of Mr Cooksley taking any corrective action when his mount was shifting ground. As a result SO GLORIOUS continued to shift into the running line of BOUNDTOBEHONORED which clipped heels and fell with Mr Rusof being dislodged from his mount. As a consequence TANTALISING was brought down passing the 250 metres when unable to avoid the fallen runner with its rider Ms Johnson being dislodged.

The Committee found no video evidence to support Mr Cooksley’s view that Mr Rusof’s actions contributed to the incident.

The Committee deemed the level of carelessness displayed by Mr Cooksley was mid-range.

In considering the consequential effects of Mr Cooksley’s actions, we note that two riders were dislodged from their mounts. The NZTR website states that Ms D Johnson’s next appointment with the specialist is on 1 February 2019. At which stage she is hoping to gain a clearance to resume race riding. Whereas Mr Rusof returned to race riding approximately 3 weeks after the fall.

The safety of horse and rider is paramount and we note that “interference” is defined in the Rules as: a horse crossing another horse without being at least its own length and one other clear length in front of such other horse at the time of crossing.

The mitigating factors were Mr Cooksley’s admission of the breach, his very good record albeit from only 110 rides in the last 12 months. In addition we accept that the 1 month delay in Mr Cooksley being served the Information means this penalty will encompass a busy period of racing over the Christmas / New Year which includes Premier and Iconic race meetings. For these collective factors Mr Cooksley was afforded a 1 week reduction in penalty.

After taking into account all the above factors the Committee considered that an appropriate suspension was 3 weeks. This equates to 16 national days.


The Committee granted a deferment to Mr Cooksley’s suspension pursuant to Rule 1106(2).

Accordingly, Mr Cooksley had his license to ride in races suspended for a period to commence after racing on 18 December and conclude after racing on 8 January 2019.


The RIU sought no order for costs.

There will also be no order for costs in favour of the JCA as this hearing was heard prior to race 1.

Dated this 17th day of December 2018

Adrian Dooley


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