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Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v P Davis - Penalty Decision dated 11 March 2020 - Chair, Mr D Anderson

Created on 12 March 2020

BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

IN THE MATTER of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing

IN THE MATTER of Information No. A12364

BETWEEN N YDGREN

Chief Stipendiary Steward for the Racing Integrity Unit

Informant

AND P DAVIS of Templeton, Licensed Open Horseman

Respondent

Date of Hearing: 6 March 2020

Venue: Westport Racecourse, Westport

Judicial Committee: D Anderson (Chair)

R McKenzie (Member)

Present: S Renault Stipendiary Steward for the Informant

P Williams Stipendiary Steward

Respondent

Date of Oral Decision: 6 March 2020

Date of Written Decision: 11 March 2020

PENALTY DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

The Charge

[1] Information No. A12364 alleges that:

P Davis as the driver of OVERZEALOUS between the 200m and the 60m (approx.) failed to place his runner under any pressure when it was both reasonable and permissible to do so to ensure it finished in the best placing possible.

[2] Mr Renault 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

Rule 868(2) reads as follows;

(2) Every driver shall take all reasonable and permissible measures at all times during the race to ensure that his/her horse is given full opportunity to win the race or to obtain the best possible position and/or finishing place.

The Plea

[3] Mr Davis had signed the Information that the breach was admitted and stated he was conversant with the Rule.

Facts

[4] On 31 January 2020 at the NZMTC meeting at Addington Raceway, Mr P Davis was the driver of OVERZEALOUS in Race 4, the SBSR ON NZB STANDARDBRED FOR VIDEOS & PEDIGREES HCP Trot and was placed 5th in the event.

Informants Evidence

[5] Mr Renault produced video replays of the race which showed Mr Davis beginning well and trailing at the winning post 200m after the start.

[6] Mr Renault pointed out on the video Mr Davis being shuffled back in the field as the race progressed until passing the 400m he was in last place.

[7] Shortly afterwards he showed Mr Davis follow GREAT THINGS HAPPEN out 3 wide and as they entered the straight shift out 4 wide for the drive to the finish.

[8] Mr Renault showed Mr Davis activate the ear plugs and stated that up to this stage the Stewards had no concerns with Mr Davis’ drive.

[9] Mr Renault stated from the 200 metres to approximately the 60 metres Mr Davis has failed to put OVERZEALOUS under an acceptable amount of pressure. He said once Mr Davis has urged his horse and given it a flick with the whip it has finished the race of generously.

[10] Mr Renault stated that passing the 50 metres OVERZEALOUS was 2 to 3 lengths from the fourth horse MONKEYS WAY and made solid ground in the concluding stages, finishing ½ a length from it at the post. He said Mr Davis had a period of about 150 metres where he showed no vigour and it was a matter of too little too late.

Respondents Evidence

[11] Mr Davis said OVERZEALOUS was the worst performed horse in the race and informed the owners that the horse could possibly be outclassed considering the quality of the field.

[12] Mr Davis said he thought the only chance he had of figuring in the finish would be to begin fast and try and stay in front of as many as he could. He said the way the race unfolded this became impossible.

[13] Mr Davis said when he activated the ear plugs his horse didn’t respond and given his position and the quality of the field, he thought he was without any chance.

[14] Mr Davis said in his opinion it wasn’t that his horse had finished the race off that well it was a matter of the field getting tired making the incident look worse than it actually was.

[15] Mr Davis said from a public perception it possibly looked bad but the combination of the horse surprising him, and some of the field performing below their best has compounded the situation.

Submissions of Informant on Penalty

[16] Mr Renault for the RIU stated that Mr Davis’ driving statistics showed 63 drives last season with 69 drives to date this season. He also said that he had a clear record in relation to this Rule. Mr Renault submitted that the breach was low range and stated that the consequences were low in the Stewards’ opinion.

[17] Mr Renault said Mr Davis drove in a relaxed style for a driver at the finish of a race but added the Stewards were not alleging an intentional act of wrongdoing but there has been a misjudgement on his part.

[18] Mr Renault stated that the JCA Penalty Guide provided a 20-drive suspension for a breach of this Rule. He submitted that taking all factors into consideration, including the level of the breach, that Mr Davis averages 3 drives per meeting and Mr Davis’ admission and his good record, that a 4 to 5-day suspension be considered as penalty.

Respondent’s Submissions on Penalty

[19] Mr Davis said he considered the level of the breach to be low and the consequences the same and also his partner was a part owner of the horse.

[20] Mr Davis said a 5-day suspension could cost him $1200 or more which is harsh for what was an error in judgement.

Reasons for Penalty

[21] The JCA Penalty Guide provides a 20-drive suspension or a $1000 fine for a breach of this Rule. This Committee agreed with the Stewards that this breach was low range with minimal consequences and have adopted a 15-drive suspension as a starting point.

[22] Mitigating factors were Mr Davis’ good record and his admission of the breach which we determined warranted a combined discount. This discount we set at 3 drives.

[23] There were no aggravating factors to consider in this case.

[24] Taking all factors into account we consider a suspension of 4 days is an appropriate penalty.

[25] Accordingly Mr Davis’ licence to drive is suspended from the close of racing on 13 March 2020 up to and including racing on the 27 March 2020.

[26] Meetings encompassed in this suspension are: BPTC 15 March, NZMTC 20 March, Waimate TC 22 March and NZMTC on 27 March 2020.

D Anderson

Chair

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