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Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v J Harrington - Decision dated 31 July 2017 - Chair, Mr D Jackson

Created on 03 August 2017

BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

IN THE MATTER of the

New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing

IN THE MATTER of Information No. A09629

BETWEEN MR S RENAULT,

Stipendiary Steward for the Racing Integrity Unit

Informant

AND MR J HARRINGTON, Junior Driver

Respondent

Date of Hearing: 28 July 2017

Venue: Addington Raceway, Christchurch

Judicial Committee: D Jackson (Chair), R McKenzie (Committee Member)

Present: Mr N Ydgren, Chief Stipendiary Steward

Mr L Tidmarsh, Stipendiary Steward

Date of Decision: 31 July 2017

DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

The Charge

[1] Information No. A09629 alleges that:

On 20 July 2017:

“As the engaged driver of DIANA HARBOUR you did place a win bet on that horse.”

The Rules

[2] Rule 505 provides as follows (emphasis added):

“(1) A horseman may not bet on any horse or combination of horses in a race, in which he or she is driving;

(2) A breach of this sub-rule (1) is declared to be a serious racing offence;

(3) After placing a bet on a horse or combination of horses in a race, a horseman may not accept a drive in that race without the approval of a Stipendiary Steward.”

The Plea

[3] Mr Harrington admitted the charge immediately when confronted by Stewards. He countersigned the information filed in the Authority and appeared at the hearing where, upon the charge and the Rule being read to him, he confirmed that he understood the charge, admitted it and wished to proceed without the support of a licensed horseman.

Summary of Facts

[4] Mr Tidmarsh produced an agreed summary of facts. It records:

“Mr Jack Harrington was the engaged driver for Diana Harbour in Race 5 at the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club Meeting on 21 July 2017. Stewards were made aware by the RIU betting analyst that Mr Harrington had placed a $145.00 win bet on Diana Harbour at 8.32pm the previous evening via his phone account on the internet. Stewards immediately contacted Mr Harrington and informed him that he was in breach of Rule 505(1) and that he was unable to place a bet on a race that he was driving in. Mr Harrington was advised that because of the bet placed he would be prohibited from driving in the race in question. Mr Dexter Dunn was the replacement driver for Diana Harbour. Mr Harrington was questioned on the night regarding having a bet in the race. He was unaware that the rule had changed in April 2014 from placing an each way bet on the horse he was driving to not being able to bet when driving in the race. Mr Harrington has been very cooperative throughout this investigation.”

Submissions of Informant on Penalty

[5] Mr Tidmarsh filed written submissions in advance of the hearing and disclosed those to Mr Harrington. Mr Tidmarsh’s submissions emphasised that a serious racing offence involving wagering required a penalty which would denounce and deter Mr Harrington’s conduct, punish him but not unduly so, and otherwise promote, in Mr Harrington, a sense of responsibility and accountability for his actions.

[6] Mr Tidmarsh referred the committee to a number of cases involving breaches of the Rule and submitted that, on an analysis of those cases, an end point fine of approximately $650.00 - $800.00 was appropriate. Mr Tidmarsh submitted that the aggravating factors here were Mr Harrington’s predetermination and planning in placing the bet via his telephone betting account the evening before the race and the quantum of the bet itself ($145 to win). Mr Tidmarsh acknowledged that the mitigating factors present here were Mr Harrington’s immediate admission, his lack of previous breaches of the rule and his status as a junior horseman.

Submissions of Respondent on Penalty

[7] Mr Harrington confirmed that he had read the written submissions prepared by Mr Tidmarsh. His response was to argue that his case differed from others referred to by Mr Tidmarsh and in particular, the case of RIU v B Crothers. The facts of that particular case are not known to the Committee but Mr Tidmarsh’s submissions record that Mr Crothers was fined $650 for placing a $10 each way bet on his horse. Mr Harrington argued that Mr Crothers’ culpability in placing each way bet was more serious than his placing a win bet here because Mr Crothers could profit by not winning but placing whereas he would only profit if he won. Mr Harrington’s logic appeared to be that because his bet was a win only bet, he therefore had more invested in the outcome and that, to an objective observer, he would be trying harder to win than Mr Crothers might.

[8] Mr Harrington submitted that accordingly he ought to be fined less than $650.00. Mr Harrington confirmed that he could pay a fine but emphasised that these were difficult times for him financially and he had a number of financial pressures.

Reasons for Penalty

[9] In determining penalty the Committee took into account the submissions made by both parties. The Committee does not agree with Mr Harrington’s submission as to culpability. The Rules do not distinguish between win and place bets (or each way bets): all bets are banned when engaged to drive. The type of bet does not impact on the culpability assessment or starting point.

[10] The Committee determines there are no aggravating factors. The size of the bet and the timing of it form part of the ingredients of the offence. They are not aggravating factors. This was a fairly blatant breach of the Rule; the bet being placed via Mr Harrington’s phone account. He made no attempt to hide it and immediately admitted to it when confronted. His explanation to the Stewards is consistent with his ignorance of the Rule but ignorance is no defence. It is for Mr Harrington to keep up to date with the Rules especially as he is both a trainer and driver. The Committee accepts Mr Harrington’s explanation as genuine and truthful.

[11] In mitigation, Mr Harrington’s admission of the breach is a factor to his credit as is his good record and his status as a junior driver (in other words his youth qualifies as a mitigating factor).

[12] In fixing a starting point, the Committee determines that $1,000 is appropriate for a serious racing offence involving a straightforward breach of Rule 505(1). Mr Harrington is entitled to credit for his admission, his cooperation and his youth. These will be fixed at $250 for his admission and $100 for other factors mentioned.

[13] The Committee therefore determined that a $650 fine was an appropriate penalty.

Penalty

[14] Mr Harrington is fined $650 for his placing a win bet on a horse he was engaged to drive.

D Jackson       R McKenzie
(Chair)            (Committee Member)

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