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Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v R Goldsbury - Decision dated 30 December 2019 - Chair, Mr T Utikere

Created on 03 January 2020


IN THE MATTER of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Rules of Racing



Judicial Committee: Mr T Utikere (Chairman) - Mr N McCutcheon (Member)

Parties: Mr N Goodwin (for the RIU) - Ms R Goldsbury (as the Respondent)

Hearing: 26 December 2019 at Awapuni Racecourse

Date of Oral Decision: 26 December 2019

Date of Written Decision: 30 December 2019



[1] Ms Goldsbury has been charged with a breach of Rule 636(1)(b) in relation to Race 5 at the Manawatu Racing Club’s Meeting on 14 December. Information A11669 was filed with the Judicial Committee on raceday, however given the seriousness of the charge Ms Goldsbury sought an adjournment which was granted. Consequently this matter was heard prior to racing at Awapuni on Thursday 26 December.

[2] Information A11669 alleges that Ms Goldsbury: “Being the rider of BRONSTEEL failed to take all reasonable and permissible measures in the home straight, not giving her horse full opportunity to obtain the best possible finishing place”.

[3] Rule 636(1) states: "A person:...(b) being the Rider of a horse in a Race, must take all reasonable and permissible measures throughout the Race to ensure that his horse is given full opportunity to win the Race or to obtain the best possible finishing place”.

[4] Ms Goldsbury confirmed that she understood the Rule and denied the breach.

[5] Using the available side-on, head-on, back straight and rear view films, Mr D Balcombe identified Ms Goldsbury on BRONSTEEL in the trail at the 600 metres. ARTISTE (L Allpress) was ahead of her and closest to the fence, with PESO (T Taiaroa) slightly ahead and to BRONSTEEL’s outside.

[6] Ms Goldsbury was observed to take a look to her outside, realising there were no runs and that a gap had opened up for some four strides. He used the back straight film to suggest that BRONSTEEL was established into the gap and inside the heels of PESO. This was because Ms Goldsbury needed to steady her mount to come across the heels of PESO. After moving across she had then followed BEAUDEN, where a gap had presented for five strides.

[7] Instead of taking the gap it was alleged that Ms Goldsbury had angled her mount across the heels of POLZEATH which was racing wider on the track where she eventually finished 2¼ lengths from third, in fourth position. He used the rear view to describe that Mrs Allpress (ARTISTE) had taken the bend slightly awkwardly, she had then straightened her mount and pushed it back to the fence. Mr Balcombe submitted that Ms Goldsbury had gone from being in the trail to approximately six horse widths off the fence and had lost significant ground in that manoeuvre.

[8] In response to questions from Ms Goldsbury about how he could be sure of the amount of ground that she had lost, Mr Balcombe identified that there was a clear loss of momentum in order for her to get across the heels of PESO, and that she then had to cover more ground in order to become the widest runner. He also observed that her horse was finishing very well over the final 200 metres. He also confirmed that as she had failed to take two runs that were available to her, it was a “significant error of judgment” on her part.

[9] Under re-examination, Mr Balcombe described the two opportunities that Ms Goldsbury had failed to take. Firstly, the gap one-off the fence which was available for some four strides which he submitted as entirely reasonable to expect a rider to have taken the gap; along with the gap behind of BEAUDEN, which he believed there was no impediment for her to improve into.

[10] He did not believe ARTISTE had shifted off the fence to any degree as once Mrs Allpress had straightened, she had kept a straight line, as had PESO. He also reiterated that as Ms Goldsbury had to take a hold to come across, this clearly indicated that she was established into that gap.

[11] The RIU had no further evidence to call.

[12] Ms Goldsbury identified that she was in her first year as a senior rider and had prepared extensive written submissions which she presented to the Hearing. The submissions referred to previous breaches of the Rule in New Zealand, but stated that Australian Racing Authorities were more relevant due to the lack of domestic cases in New Zealand, and the appropriateness of looking to the Australian context(1) for principles to guide the approach to be taken to breaches of the New Zealand Rule(2).

(1)  The Respondent referred to approaches taken in C Munce v NSW Racing (Decision published 11 June 2003), Browne v Racing Queensland (18 March 2014) and Oliver v QRIC (2017).

(2) Rule 636(1)(b).

[13] The Australian Authorities referred to, referenced the contention of a rider’s ‘error of judgement’ viz a viz the level of culpability and blameworthiness that could be attached to the rider when considering all the circumstances of the alleged breach. As Mr Balcombe had confirmed that she had made an error of judgement, she believed the Australian Authorities, which had a clearer understanding of the Rule, meant that she lacked the culpability and blameworthiness required to be proven under the charge.

[14] Ms Goldsbury also challenged the nature of the charge, which referred to her failing to take reasonable and permissible measures in the “home straight”. She believed this meant the Committee must only look at the entire home straight, some distance of 350 metres at Awapuni.

[15] She said that she had been held up rounding the turn into the home straight, and she had shifted out slightly in order to get off the rail and make a run. This was due to the horse in front of her (ARTISTE) appearing to be under pressure and her belief that the horse would therefore weaken. She had heard yelling behind her whilst she was looking to her outside as she had not realised there was a horse improving to her outside. This had meant she rolled back towards the fence as she was not clear to move at that time.

[16] She used the relevant films to identify that she was continually looking to her left, actively seeking a way to improve into the race. She believed Mrs Allpress’ mount had galloped sideways and referenced that horse’s head and hindquarters to demonstrate this.

[17] Her written submissions also explained her intentions to improve and go forward and the actions she took at the time. She identified that in the run to the line she used her whip for encouragement and had actively tested her mount and had shown full intention to ride BRONSTEEL in the best possible manner.

[18] The Respondent also expressed her concerns about the RIU’s inconsistent approach to the application of the Rules, detailing her recent interactions with Stewards about raceday incidents, including a raceday fall that she suffered on 10 October at Tauherenikau.

[19] She noted the current charge was a very serious one and that in order to find the charge proven, it could not be left to speculation. She believed that the Committee could only judge what had happened, or may have happened, stride by stride as active decisions were often made during a race within a very small amount of time. She submitted that the charge should be dismissed.

[20] Under cross-examination by Mr Goodwin, Ms Goldsbury confirmed that as she had drifted out, Mr Elliot (BEAUDEN) had yelled, and that she had been looking to move outwards before she straightened for the run home. Mr Goodwin challenged why she would do that when she positioned in the perfect trail. She used the head-on film to confirm her action of continually looking to the right as she had observed ARTISTE to gallop outwards, so was not going there, continuing to move outwards.

[21] Ms Goldsbury also confirmed that at no stage did she stop riding, but Mr Goodwin submitted that Stewards had no issue with her vigour or ride to the line, but rather that she missed an opportunity on two occasions to improve into a gap, citing a complete lack of judgement on two occasions.

[22] In summary, Mr Goodwin believed there were two separate occasions where there was an opportunity for Ms Goldsbury to improve: when the first gap occurred, she appeared hesitant, whilst there was no impediment; and the second gap behind BEAUDEN had simply not been taken.

[23] Summing up, the Respondent believed she had covered her main points in her written submissions, but emphasised that it was alleged she failed to take the measures in the ‘home straight’ which was not accurate, that whilst errors may have been made there needed to be culpability and intent to stop riding and that no sectionals had been provided to give substance to the RIU’s case.

[24] The Committee had considered the submissions and evidence that had been placed before it. We also had the opportunity to review all of the available films at some length, which has assisted us with our observations surrounding this incident.

[25] The Stipendiary Stewards allege that soon after entering the home straight, Ms Goldsbury failed to take advantage of a run that was presented to her after Mrs Allpress moved ARTISTE closer to the running rail. They allege that this gap between ARTISTE and PESO was available for some four to six strides.

[26] They further allege that Ms Goldsbury angled BRONSTEEL out across PESO’s heels and that a further gap was presented for some five strides which again Ms Goldsbury failed to improve into. She then continued to shift her horse to the outside of the field, from where BRONSTEEL finished in fourth position some 2¼ lengths from the third runner.

[27] The RIU have submitted that they have no issue with how she rode her horse after getting to the outside of the field, or the vigour displayed during that time. Our review of the films lead us to the same conclusion.

[28] Ms Goldsbury has relied upon approaches to this Rule in the Australian jurisdiction, citing ‘culpability’ and ‘blameworthiness’ and that as an ‘error of judgement’, this would not be a breach of the Rule. Australian Authorities may provide guidance in situations where no previous domestic precedent exists. However, that is not the case for breaches of this Rule in the New Zealand context. This is because there are previous breaches of Rule 636(1)(b) in New Zealand that provide judicial committees with precedent and guidance.

[29] What is alleged in Information A11669 is that the breach, or breaches, occurred in the home straight. For clarity, this does not mean that the action needs to have taken place during the entire home straight, but rather the Judicial Committee must be satisfied that it occurred at some point, or points, within the area defined as the home straight.

[30] With regard to alleged inconsistent approaches taken by the RIU, whilst we understand why a respondent might feel aggrieved if such circumstances did exist, they are irrelevant for the purpose of the determination we must make. Our remit is to consider whether the charge is proven based on the specific circumstances of the alleged incident and the evidence that has been adduced. We also consider the lack of any sectionals to be irrelevant on this occasion.

[31] The back straight film clearly indicates that Ms Goldsbury was established into the run between ARTISTE and PESO as she had to noticeably take a hold in order to come off the heels of PESO at the time. The head-on and rear view films also clearly indicate the two discrete gaps that were presented for the Respondent to take on two separate occasions.

[32] Based on our assessment of the films and the evidence presented by both parties, we form the very clear view that it was reasonable and permissible to expect a rider in similar circumstances to take opportunity of the ample gaps that were presented, and remained for some distance, even after Ms Goldsbury shifted her horse to the outside. In electing not to do so, she is in breach of Rule 636(1)(b).

[33] The Committee finds the charge proved.

[34] Mr Goodwin identified that Ms Goldsbury had no previous breaches of the Rule in New Zealand and that charges brought under this rule were infrequent in nature. The most recent breach had been by Ms B Grylls at Hawke’s Bay on 1 January 2019 for which a four weeks suspension was imposed.

[35] He submitted that a term of suspension was appropriate, and whilst aware of the JCA Penalty Guidelines starting point of a six weeks period of suspension under this Rule, given the number of race meetings at this time of the year, he did not submit a specific term of suspension.

[36] Ms Goldsbury agreed that it was a busy time of the year with a large number of race meetings, meaning that a period of suspension expressed as weeks would be cover a larger number of meetings than if a similar period of suspension was imposed at any other time of the year. She also advised of upcoming commitments at Tauherenikau on Thursday 2 January 2020.

[37] The Committee considered the Penalty Submissions of the RIU and the Respondent. It is clear to us that this was an obvious and significant breach of the Rule. In determining penalty, we have considered that there are a greater number of race meetings during this time of the year.

[38] The JCA Penalty Guide identifies a starting point for this breach of a six week period of suspension. As this starting point is expressed as weeks, rather than days, it signals that a breach of Rule 636(1)(b) is to be viewed, and treated, as a very serious breach. The fact that there is only a singular breach within the previous 12 months underscores this fact.

[39] Therefore, we do not consider the dense number of race meetings within any upcoming period of suspension as a sufficient reason to deviate from the Penalty Guide’s starting point and accordingly we adopt a starting point of six weeks suspension.

[40] We note the Respondent’s good record, but we would expect that of any rider in relation to this Rule. The end result will be a five weeks period of suspension.

[41] Taking into account Ms Goldsbury’s desire to defer the commencement of a suspension in order to fulfil commitments at Tauherenikau, she is suspended from the conclusion of racing on Thursday 2 January until the conclusion of racing on Thursday 6 February 2020.

[42] As this was heard on a raceday, there will be no order for costs.

Signed at Palmerston North this 30th day of December 2019.

Mr Tangi Utikere

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