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Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v J McInerney - Written Reserved Decision dated 18 December 2018 - Chair, Prof G Hall

Created on 20 December 2018



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





JOHN MCINERNEY, Licensed Trainer


Informations: A11005 & A11006

Judicial Committee: Prof G Hall, Chairman

Mr S Ching, Member

Appearing: Mr G Whiterod, Chief Stipendiary Steward, for the informant Mr McInerney in person

Date of hearing: 6 December 2018


[1] On 28 November 2018 the Wanganui Greyhound Racing Club held a race meeting at Wanganui. The Chairman of Stewards at the meeting was Mr G Whiterod, Chief Stipendiary Steward. Assisting him in the kennel area was Mr M Austin, Stipendiary Steward.

[2] Information No A11005 alleges “that, on 28 November 2018 in race 11 at a race meeting conducted by the Wanganui Greyhound Racing Club at Wanganui Mr J T McInerney scratched TIDDY CASH without a valid reason. An alleged breach of r 40.3 of the Greyhound Racing New Zealand’s Rules.”

[3] Information No A11006 alleges “that on 28 November 2018 in race 11 at a race meeting conducted by the Wanganui Greyhound Racing Club at Wanganui Mr JT McInerney presented TIDDY CASH (down in weight by 1.8 kg) from the last start on 12 November 2018. An alleged breach of r 45.11 of the Greyhound Racing New Zealand’s Rules.”

[4] Rule 40.3 states:

If a Greyhound is withdrawn without valid reason after the Box Draw, or after qualifying for a Semi Final or Final of a Totalisator Race, the Owner or Trainer of the Greyhound shall be guilty of an Offence.

[5] Rule 45.11 provides:

Where the weight of a Greyhound recorded at a Meeting varies by more than one and a 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 r 45.12.

[6] The matters were heard at Addington raceway on 6 December. Mr McInerney denied the charges.

Informant’s case

[7] Mr Whiterod produced authority to lay the two charges from Mr M Godber, General Manager of the RIU, in a letter dated 30 November 2018.

[8] Mr Whiterod addressed first the r 40.3 charge. He stated that TIDDY CASH had been kennelled and passed by the veterinarian as fit to race. There were no known issues with the dog although we note the head kennel steward, Ms Fowlie, had informed Mr Austin that the dog was down 1.8 kg in weight..

[9] Mr Whiterod said that Mr Austin approached him stating that the respondent had been talking to Mr S McInerney (the respondent’s son), who in turn had spoken to Ms S Stone, who was representing the kennel at the track on the day, and he had instructed Mr S McInerney that the dog be withdrawn.

[10] TIDDY CASH was revetted in the presence of Mr Austin. The veterinarian report is Exhibit “C”. This states that it is a pre-race check conducted at 3.15. Temperature is recorded as 38.2, hydration is normal and heart sounds normal. It concludes with “NAD” (no abnormalities detected). The veterinarian told Mr Austin she could find no reason on her examination why the dog could not go out and compete.

[11] Mr Whiterod had thus not been advised that there was any problem with the dog. He asked Mr Austin to talk to Mr S McInerney. He told Mr Austin that the respondent was adamant that the dog be withdrawn. Mr Whiterod then late scratched the dog.

[12] Mr Whiterod said he attempted to advise Ms Stone that two Informations would be laid but she had left the course.

[13] Mr Whiterod contacted the respondent the next morning and Mr McInerney said to him that both charges would be defended. Mr Whiterod emphasised that at the time of kennelling no representative from the kennel had mentioned to the veterinarian or the Stipendiary Stewards that there was anything untoward with respect to the dog’s health.

[14] The respondent told Mr Whiterod that he believed any dog that was down that much in weight had health issues therefore the dog should be scratched. Because there were no veterinarian certificates, Mr Whiterod said he continued with the laying of the Informations.

[15] A few days later, Mr Whiterod received a veterinarian certificate from a Feilding veterinarian, Ms Sheard, who was not known to Mr Whiterod. Mr Whiterod questioned why the dog was taken to a Feilding veterinarian when there were four other veterinarians in Wanganui who specialised in greyhounds. He acknowledged, however, that the respondent’s usual veterinarian was away at the time. He said he believed the Wanganui veterinarians were a better option and the dog should have been taken to them as soon as possible after the meeting.

[16] Mr Whiterod said it was questionable how much could be taken from the veterinarian certificate when the report was compiled 2 days after the meeting. He believed the veterinarian was repeating in the report the information told to her by the person presenting the dog to her. (We note the report, Exhibit “D”, dated 30 November 2018, records the dog’s temperature as 38.6 and states that the dog “developed diarrhoea Wednesday morning (48 hours ago) …. Lost 1.8kg over 2 days.” The dog was noted to be on an antibiotic, thought to be amoxicillin, prescribed by the usual veterinarian who was currently away. The report notes towards the end that the dog “appears to be recovering from bout of enteritis.”)

[17] Mr Whiterod emphasised that there had been no mention by the kennel representative at kennelling that there were issues with diarrhoea. The official veterinarian had said that TIDDY CASH was fit to race and had passed it fit on two occasions.

[18] The respondent’s instruction to scratch TIDDY CASH was by telephone. He believed the dog was scratched without valid reason because the veterinarian had found it fit to race. He said no reason was given on the day, just that Mr McInerney wants to scratch it.

[19] Without respect to Information A11006 Mr Whiterod said TIDDY CASH was down 1.8 kg in weight from its last start on 12 November 2018 and was placed in the kennels and presented to race.

Respondent’s case

[20] Mr McInerney commenced his case by stating his dogs were weighed on Sunday before the meetings that week. If he had known at the time TIDDY CASH had weighed light he would have concluded the dog had an obvious issue. He was concerned that the veterinarian who examined TIDDY CASH had not taken the dog’s temperature.

[21] Mr McInerney believed the kennel representative had been intimidated by the Stipendiary Stewards. He said his instructions were that any dog that weighed in underweight should be immediately scratched and examined by the veterinarian. TIDDY CASH had lost 6% of its body weight. The dog scoured badly later when on the trailer. It was “crook on the way home”.

[22] Mr McInerney stated he did not accept the statement from Mr Austin that Ms Stone had said they had been trying to take some weight off the dog over the previous 14 days. This was wrong; they had not been trying to do so.

[23] Mr McInerney said the Stipendiary Steward, Mr Austin, knew that his instructions were that any dog that weighed in light should have its temperature checked by the veterinarian. It should have been checked on this occasion. He said he had been consistent in expressing this view. He produced the report of a Judicial Committee dated 12 July 2018 where with respect to a breach of r 45.11 it had noted at [10] that “he told the Committee that, given the greyhound weighed in 2.3 kg lighter than at its previous start, he would have expected the vet to at least take its temperature to make sure it was fit to race.”

[24] Mr McInerney emphasised that had the dog raced on the day it would have exacerbated the condition. A few other dogs in his kennel had later been sick but TIDDY CASH had been the worst affected and had taken longer to recover.

[25] Mr McInerney said other vets had scratched dogs when they weighed in light. He questioned why TIDDY CASH had not been scratched on this occasion when the dog had lost so much body weight in such a short time. It should have been obvious something was wrong and the dog should have had its temperature taken as a matter of course.

[26] With respect to the vet that he had consulted, the respondent said he could not get into his usual vet, and the one he consulted was the first available appointment. He had not used that vet before and said “a vet is a vet” and he did not know whether a vet was an expert with greyhounds.

[27] Mr McInerney said the welfare of the dog was a critical issue that had to be addressed on the day. He believed most official vets on raceday would ensure that a dog’s temperature was taken where there was a significant weight loss. Mr Whiterod disagreed with this.

[28] Mr McInerney produced an email (Exhibit “3”) from Ms M Stewart, Head of Welfare at GRNZ. This states:

In principle I agree with you [Mr McInerney] that if a dog has a sudden drop in body weight that it should be checked by a veterinarian for signs of illness as it could be due to dehydration/ diarrhoea/ disease. On race day we can’t expect on track vets to do a full clinical examination but it would be helpful if they could take a body temperature as an indication that the dog may be unwell.”

[29] With respect to information A11006 Mr McInerney said the dog did not race on the day so therefore he should not be charged with the dog being underweight.

Summing up

[30] Mr Whiterod in summing said he agreed that animal welfare was a significant issue and the RIU paid heed to this.

[31] With respect to information A11006 he said TIDDY CASH was presented to race down 1.8 kg in weight. This was a clear breach of r 45.11.

[32] As to information A11005 he said there was no indication from the handler at the veterinarian table that there was a problem with the dog. The dog was passed fit to race. Sometime later Ms Stone was instructed by the respondent that TIDDY CASH be scratched.

[33] Mr Whiterod said TIDDY CASH was re-examined at the time of the race. (We note the examination was at 3.15 and the race was scheduled to start at 3.19.) This, he said, was a more thorough examination and the dog was cleared fit to race.

[34] Mr Whiterod said the respondent insisted that TIDDY CASH be late scratched and there was thus a clear breach of r 40.3.

[35] Mr McInerney said when the dog weighed in so light the vet should have had its temperature taken as it was clearly in ill health. The fact that the dog scoured badly on the way home confirmed this. The dog may have looked okay but it was not. The vet had not had time to do a full examination. He believed the position would be different now as the vets were no longer doing swabbing. There were raceday swabbing stewards.

[36] Mr McInerney said if the dog had raced it would be “buggered”. With the dog dropping such a lot of weight in a short time, it should have been scratched. It was an animal welfare issue.


[37] We deal with the informations separately.

[38] Information A11006 alleges a breach of r 45.11 The issue is whether the weight of TIDDY CASH recorded at a meeting varies by more than 1.5 kg from the weight recorded in a race in which it last performed. If so, the trainer of the greyhound is guilty of an offence. TIDDY CASH weighed 35.9 kg when the dog raced on 12 November and weighed 1.8 kg down from this weight when weighed on 28 November. We note the dog was weighed twice, as per normal procedure.

[39] Mr McInerney does not dispute this. He believes the fact that the dog did not race on 28 November is a defence to this charge. We can see no support for this submission in the wording of the rule. There was a variance of 1.8 kg when the dog was presented and weighed at the respective meetings.

[40] We thus find Mr McInerney to be in breach of r 45.11.

[41] As to r 40.3 the issue is whether TIDDY CASH was withdrawn without valid reason after the box draw. Mr McInerney’s defence in essence is that he had a valid reason in that the significant loss of weight pointed to a health issue, which in this case transpired to be diarrhoea.

[42] Mr McInerney further states that his handler (Ms Stone) and Mr Austin were aware that his instructions were to scratch any dog that was significantly underweight (and in this regard he referred to the kennel’s practice of weighing dogs on the Sunday before the race meeting). Clearly Mr Austin would be unaware of the variation in the weight between the Sunday and the day of the meeting. This would have to be conveyed to the Steward by the handler.

[43] We believe it is unrealistic (and we note there is no provision in the Rules) for any trainer to expect a Stipendiary Steward to act on running instructions that “if my dog is significantly underweight it is to be scratched at the time of the veterinarian inspection.” Each trainer may have a different perspective as to “significantly underweight” and a Steward could not be expected to have to keep account of these.

[44] Mr McInerney has suggested that the dog’s handler, Ms Stone, had been intimidated by the Steward, Mr Austin, and this was why the issue of the dog being scratched had not been raised at the time of the kennelling veterinarian inspection. There is no evidence of this before this Committee, so we do not attach any weight to this submission.

[45] We note that Mr McInerney has submitted that the raceday veterinarian inspection should include the taking of a dog’s temperature where the dog is underweight and there are concerns with respect to this issue, such as the loss being sudden. We observe that Ms Stewart, the Head of Welfare at GRNZ, states that the Association “could not expect on track vets to do a full clinical examination but it would be helpful if they could take a body temperature as an indication that the dog may be unwell.” With the increased emphasis on animal welfare, consideration could be given to this and perhaps it should be seen to be best practice.

[46] We note Mr McInerney’s concern with the welfare of TIDDY CASH, but no concerns as to the dog’s well-being were evident at the time of either of the two raceday veterinarian inspections. The dog had been passed as fit to race. The diarrhoea issue appears to have arisen after the time the dog would have raced. We do not overlook Mr McInerney’s submission that this evidences the fact that the significant loss in weight by TIDDY CASH was itself evidence of the dog not being fit to race. Clearly this is a matter for individual and expert judgment. The veterinarian on the day examined TIDDY CASH twice, as we have previously noted, and declared the dog fit to race. The Stipendiary Stewards understandably acted on this advice. Mr McInerney did not present the dog to race and as a consequence it was late scratched.

[47] In the circumstances of this case we do not find that Mr McInerney had a valid reason to withdraw TIDDY CASH from race 11 at the meeting conducted by the Wanganui Greyhound Racing Club on 28 November 2018. We thus find the breach of r 40.3 proved.

[48] We require submissions from the parties as to penalty. We realise the festive season is fast approaching.

[49] We propose that a teleconference be held on Thursday 20 December at a time convenient to the parties at which we will hear oral submissions as to penalty.

[50] Should either party disagree with this course of action, we will call a teleconference to schedule written submissions.

Dated at Dunedin this 18th day of December 2018.

Geoff Hall, Chairman

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