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Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v L F O'Reilly - Penalty Decision dated 20 April 2019 - Chair, Mr S Ching

Created on 29 April 2019


IN THE MATTER of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing

IN THE MATTER of Information No. A11208


Stipendiary Steward for the Racing Integrity Unit


AND L F O’REILLY of Rakaia, Licensed Open Horseman


Date of Hearing: 20 April 2019

Venue: Addington Raceway, Christchurch

Judicial Committee: S Ching (Chair)

R McKenzie (Panellist)

Present: C Tibbs, the Informant

S Renault, Stipendiary Steward

Date of Decision: 20 April 2019


The Charge

[1] Information No. A11208 alleges that:

L O’Reilly, as the driver of WITH THE BAND, shifted inwards racing into the first bend when not clear of inside runners being OHOKA MATTY (J Alford) and GARRY’S LEGACY (J Dunn), causing GARRY’S LEGACY to break.

[2] Mrs Tibbs produced a letter signed by Mr M R Godber, General Manager of the Racing Integrity Unit, authorising the filing of the information pursuant to Rule 1108 (2).

The Rules

[3] Rule 869(3)(b) reads as follows;

(3) No horseman in any race shall drive:-
(b) carelessly

The Plea

[4] Mr O’Reilly had endorsed the Information that the breach was not admitted which he confirmed at the hearing. Mr O’Reilly also confirmed he understood the Rule he was being charged with.


[5] On 7 April 2019 at the Rangiora Harness Racing Club's meeting at Rangiora Raceway, Mr L O’Reilly was the driver of WITH THE BAND in Race 11, the Dawe Contracting Ltd Mobile Pace and was placed 1st in the event.

Informant's Evidence

[6] Mrs Tibbs, with the assistance of Stipendiary Steward, Mr S Renault, produced video replays of the incident which showed Mr O’Reilly, driving WITH THE BAND, improving forward from a start position of 5 with OHOKA MATTY, driven by Mr J Alford, off the 3 position at the mobile start and GARRY’S LEGACY, driven by Mr J Dunn, off the 1 position, on the pylons.

[7] Mr Renault pointed out on the video, Mr O’Reilly, approaching the first bend and attempting to shift down in front of Mr Alford and Mr Dunn. Mr Renault stated that Mr O’Reilly was not clear of Mr Alford in this manoeuvre, which he demonstrated on the lateral view of the incident. Mr Renault pointed out Mr Alford taking hold of his horse and being forced inwards onto Mr Dunn, who also had to take hold, and as a result GARRY’S LEGACY, goes rough and breaks.

[8] Mr Renault, using the back straight films, showed Mr O’Reilly steering his drive inwards and putting pressure on Mr Alford who was forced in onto Mr Dunn, who is shifted inwards, eventually breaking. He pointed out Mr Alford, who was driving his horse forward in an attempt to gain the lead, have to take a hold and steady his drive, when Mr O’Reilly shifted across in front of him.

[9] Mr J Alford, driver of OHOKA MATTY, was not on course for the hearing but available via mobile phone. He stated that he was attempting to go forward and received pressure from his outside, being Mr O’Reilly, and had to take a hold of his horse. When asked a question from the Committee he stated that Mr O’Reilly was not quite clear of him when crossing and forced him down about ½ a cart width. He said he took a hold of his horse to make sure there was no contact between his drive and Mr O’Reilly’s.

[10] Mr O’Reilly questioned Mr Alford and asked if Mr Dunn was running out to him prior to the incident to which Mr Alford stated that he did not notice Mr Dunn running out but kicking up inside him to keep him off the pylons. Mr O’Reilly also asked Mr Alford whether or not he had a chance to achieve the lead position to which he replied that he thought he did until Mr O’Reilly came up on his outside.

[11] Mr J Dunn, driver of GARRY’S LEGACY, was on course but unwilling to attend the hearing, made himself available via mobile phone. He stated that there was downward pressure from the outside which consequently caused his horse to break. He said there was no contact made between the horses but thought his horse may have struck a marker which caused it to break.

[12] Mr O’Reilly questioned Mr Dunn and asked him whether or not GARRY’S LEGACY was running off the pylons in the back straight and when he had to correct him, he went rough and broke free of interference. Mr Dunn replied that there was no contact between runners but that striking a marker was what he thought caused his horse to gallop. Mr O’Reilly then asked Mr Dunn if GARRY’S LEGACY was comfortable in the track conditions and was the horse was prone to breaking. Mr Dunn replied that the horse seemed ok on the day with the track conditions and was not that prone to breaking.

[13] Mr Renault in summing up, stated that there did not have to be contact for interference to occur. He said that Mr O’Reilly’s carelessness is that he is not clear, at any stage, of Mr Alford, who has had to take hold. Mr Alford, he said, stated in his evidence that he received no pressure from the inside, only from the outside. Mr Renault stated that Mr Alford's intention was to go forward, however Mr O’Reilly’s movement inwards has crowded him down onto Mr Dunn who subsequently broke. He added that Mr O’Reilly has taken away the opportunity for Mr Alford to assume the lead position by his actions of crossing his line when not clear. He conceded that GARRY'S LEGACY had a tendency to lay outwards in the early stages, but had straightened and was racing true, prior to the pressure from the outside. Finally, he said, that Mr O’Reilly was not clear in this movement inwards and should have gone on further before shifting in, causing the interference to both runners.

Respondent's Submissions

[14] Mr O’Reilly showed the back straight films and submitted that he was still 3 wide when Mr Dunn’s horse broke after throwing its head in the air. He submitted that GARRY’S LEGACY was not running straight, was off the fence, threw his head up and galloped, free of interference. Mr O’Reilly stated that if Mr Dunn’s horse was running straight, he would not have galloped. In summary Mr O’Reilly said that in his opinion he was clear of Mr Alford and that GARRY'S LEGACY put pressure on Mr Alford from the inside. He added that there was no contact between runners and that GARRY'S LEGACY was not helping himself and reiterated, was known to gallop free of interference.


[15] We carefully considered the evidence presented by both the informant, respondent and witnesses in conjunction with available film replays of the incident. We determined that shortly after the start and approaching the first bend, Mr O’Reilly was improving forward from the start position of 5 with Mr Alford and Mr Dunn off start positions of 3 and 1, respectively. It is clear that Mr O’Reilly was shifting down and improving when crossing Mr Alford and Mr Dunn. We are satisfied that Mr Alford had to take hold when Mr O’Reilly shifted across his line, causing inward pressure to Mr Dunn who eventually broke. Mr Alford’s and Mr Dunn’s evidence in conjunction with the relevant video replays of the incident have satisfied this Committee that Mr O’Reilly was not clear of Mr Alford when shifting in to assume the lead position. We therefore find that Mr O’Reilly drove carelessly in this incident and find the charge proved.

Submissions of Informant on Penalty

[16] Mr Renault for the RIU stated that Mr O’Reilly's driving statistics showed 135 drives so far this season and that he had a clear record in relation to this rule over the previous 12 months. He stated that the JCA Penalty Guide provided a $500 fine or a 10-drive suspension for a breach of this rule. Mr Renault submitted that with shifting ground, careless driving offences, the policy is to request suspensions as penalty which, on this occasion, they would be submitting. He stated the aggravating factors were the fact that GARRY’S LEGACY had its chances eliminated. In mitigation, Mr Renault submitted that Mr O’Reilly’s good record deserved credit.

[17] After taking all factors into consideration, Mr Renault submitted that a 10-drive suspension be considered as penalty. He said that Mr O’Reilly averages 3 drives per meeting and a 3 to 4-day suspension be considered as penalty.

Respondent’s Submissions on Penalty

[18] Mr O’Reilly stated that he did not seek a deferment in penalty and requested any suspension begin as soon as possible.

Reasons for Penalty

[19] The JCA Penalty Guide provides a 10-drive suspension or a $500 fine for a breach of this rule. This Committee agreed with Mr Renault that this breach could be dealt with by way of suspension. The starting point of a 10-drive suspension is adopted with the aggravating factors warranting an uplift which we set at 2 drives. We were however able to afford Mr O’Reilly a discount for his good record which we set at 2 drives.

[20] We therefore determined that a 10-drive suspension is an appropriate penalty in this case.

[21] Mr O’Reilly has on average, 3 drives per meeting, and we therefore determined that a 3-day suspension was appropriate in this case.


[22] Accordingly, Mr O’Reilly is suspended from the conclusion of racing 22 April, after the Banks Peninsula Trotting Club meeting-fields already drawn, up to and including 5 May 2019. Relevant meetings encompassed in this period of suspension are Timaru Harness on 24 April, NZMTC on 3 May and Rangiora 5 May 2019.

S Ching R McKenzie

(Chair) (Panellist)

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