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Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v J McInerney - Written Reserved Decision dated 11 October 2018 - Chair, Mr P Williams

Created on 11 October 2018

BEFORE THE JUDICIAL CONTROL AUTHORITY

UNDER THE RACING ACT 2003

AND IN THE MATTER of the Rules of New Zealand Greyhound Racing Authority (Incorporated)

BETWEEN

RACING INTEGRITY UNIT (RIU) - Informant

AND

JOHN MCINERNEY - Respondent

Judicial Committee: Mr Paul Williams (Chairman), Mr Tangi Utikere (Committee Member)

Appearing: Mr Michael Austin, Stipendiary Steward, RIU, as the Informant

Mr John McInerney, Licensed Trainer, as the Respondent

Venue: Matter was heard via teleconference

Date of Teleconference: Wednesday 10 October 2018

Date of Decision: Thursday 11 October 2018

WRITTEN RESERVED DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

1] On 24 September 2018 at the Palmerston North Greyhound Racing Club {PNGRC} meeting Mr McInerney was charged with a breach of Rule 45.11 of the Rules of the New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association Incorporated {the Rules} in that, as stated in Information A10904, “SOZINS ROAR was presented to race at 35.5kgs up 1.9kgs from his last start weight of 33.6kgs on 31 August 2018”.

2] Rule 45.11 states:- Where the weight of a greyhound recorded at a Meeting varies by more than one and 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] Rule 45.12 details the criteria to be met before a penalty can be waived and on this occasion Mr Austin decided those criteria were not met.

4] On the race day Ms Sammy Stone, who was representing the kennel and present when “Sozins Roar” was weighed, signed Information A10904 indicating the breach of the Rule was admitted. At the beginning of the teleconference Mr Austin confirmed a copy of Information A10904, showing that Ms Stone had admitted the breach of the Rule, had been sent to Mr McInerney by the PNGRC on the day of the races.

5] Mr Austin said, as at all greyhound meetings, the scales on 24 September 2018 were checked before the weighing of greyhounds commenced. He confirmed “Sozins Roar” was correctly weighed with both himself, Stipendiary Steward Mr Bateup and Ms Stone being present for the weighing of the greyhound. Because the greyhound weighed in at 35.5kgs or 1.9kgs over its last start weight on 31 August 2018 the greyhound was re-weighed shortly after its first weigh in and again the weight recorded was 35.5kgs. Mr Austin said Ms Stone confirmed at the time that there were no issues with the health of the greyhound and this was confirmed following the standard vet inspection. Mr Austin added that, as is the case at all meetings if a handler or trainer wishes to dispute the weighing process and/or have the scales re-checked, they can do so but there were no concerns expressed by Ms Stone about the weighing process.

6] Mr McInerney told the Committee he did not dispute the greyhound was overweight from its last start on 31 August 2018. He said the gap between the greyhound’s races was 24 days and had it been 28 days or longer the Rule would not have been breached. He added that the greyhound was only 0.4kg’s over the permissible 1.5kgs variation from its last start weight.

7] Mr McInerney expressed surprise at being charged with this breach as he had been recently told by a member of the RIU that on 7 September 2018 it had been agreed the policy of increasing the penalty for three or more breaches of this Rule in a 120-day period was to change. Mr Austin said he had no knowledge of any change in policy. Mr McInerney was told by the Chairman that until an official notice was received by the JCA that there had been a change to the Sixth Schedule of the Rules any penalty to be imposed today would be based on the status quo.

8] Following today’s teleconference the Chief Stipendiary Steward {Greyhound Racing}, Mr Whiterod, has confirmed in writing that there has been no change in policy relating to the interpretation of this Rule. A copy of that email from Mr Whiterod, dated 10 October 2018, has been forwarded to Mr McInerney.

SUBMISSIONS ON PENALTY

9] Mr Austin submitted this was Mr McInerney’s fifth breach of this Rule in the previous 120 days. He noted the previous penalty imposed on Mr McInerney on 9 August 2018 {in relation to the breach of the Rule on 30 July 2018} and submitted the Stewards believed a fine of $300 was an appropriate penalty. He also asked the Committee to note that whilst Mr McInerney was a busy trainer so were many others who were not regularly breaching the weight infringement Rule.

10] Mr McInerney said he accepted he had breached the Rule but reiterated that the greyhound was in effect only 0.4kg above the permissible variation and had not raced for 24 days. In answer to a question from the Committee about what steps he took to minimise the risk of a greyhound weighing in above or below the permissible variation from its last start he said it was his practice to weigh his greyhounds once a week and closer to race day to walk them in order for them to excrete the “excess weight”. He added that all greyhounds were different which meant there was no guarantee that any weight loss required would happen.

REASONS FOR PENALTY

11] The Sixth Schedule of the Rules is a list of breaches of Rules classified as Minor Infringements. The schedule lists the penalty to be imposed if a Minor Infringement occurs and also the penalty to be imposed if a second breach of the same Rule occurs within 120 days of the first breach - $100 and $150 respectively. Where a third or further breaches of the same Rule occur within 120 days the matter is referred to the Judicial Control Authority to determine the penalty to be imposed. Rule 45.11 is included in the list of Minor Infringements in the Sixth Schedule of the Rules.

12] Mr McInerney operates two training establishments. However, the RIU treat the combined operations as one as do Greyhound Racing New Zealand when publishing details of the trainer’s premiership table. Those statistics show Mr McInerney to be a very busy trainer, having had approximately 1240 starters so far this season but the Committee is concerned this is his fifth breach of this Rule in 104 days, with four of those relating to his North Island kennel which he himself is not based at. The previous 4 breaches of the Rule occurred at meetings on:-

* 30 July 2018 at Palmerston North - a fine of $225 was imposed at a non raceday hearing
* 12 July 2018 at Wanganui - a fine of $175 was imposed at a non raceday hearing
* 26 June 2018 at Forbury Park – a fine of $150 was imposed by way of a Minor Infringement
* 12 June 2018 at Palmerston North - a fine of $100 was imposed by way of a Minor Infringement

13] The Committee notes Mr McInerney’s admission of the breach and his cooperation with the Stewards when advised of the breach of the Rule.

14] The Committee considers this repeated {fifth} breach, by its very repeat nature in a short space of time, must attract a greater penalty than the one previously imposed in order to act as a deterrent and discourage Mr McInerney and others from committing a similar breach of the Rules. After considering the submissions of both parties and taking all of the above into account we believe a penalty by way of a fine larger than that imposed by the same Judicial Committee for Mr McInerney’s previous breach of this Rule on 30 July 2018 is appropriate.

15] We have not considered what is an appropriate starting point for a fifth breach of the Rule in under 120 days but rather what is an appropriate increase in the previous penalty of a fine of $225 imposed on Mr McInerney on 30 July 2018. That penalty was $50 higher than the penalty imposed on him for a breach of the same Rule on 12 July 2018 and after due consideration we have decided an increase of $75 on the fine imposed on 30 July 2018 is appropriate on this occasion.

PENALTY

16] Mr McInerney is fined $300.

COSTS

17] The Racing Integrity Unit did not seek an order for costs and as the matter was heard on the papers there will be no order for costs in favour of the JCA.

Dated at Wellington this 11th day of October 2018.

Paul Williams

Chairman

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