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Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v S M Evans & B H Evans - Reserved Penalty Decision dated 25 February 2020 - Chair, Mr R G McKenzie

Created on 27 February 2020

BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

HELD AT CHRISTCHURCH

IN THE MATTER of the Rules of New Zealand

Greyhound Racing Association

IN THE MATTER of Information No. A09903

BETWEEN S W WALLIS, Chief Stipendiary

Steward (Greyhounds) for the Racing Integrity Unit

Informant

AND STEPHEN MARK EVANS and BONNIE HINEMANU EVANS of Leeston

Licensed Public Trainers

Respondents

Judicial Committee: Mr R G McKenzie (Chairman)

Mr S C Ching (Member)

Present: Mr S W Wallis, the Informant

Mr S M Evans, on behalf of the Respondents

Date of Hearing: 14 February 2020

Date of Decision: 25 February 2020

RESERVED PENALTY REASONS OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

The Charges

[1] Information No. A09903 has been filed by Chief Stipendiary Steward for Greyhound Racing, Mr S W Wallis, against Licensed Public Trainers, Stephen Mark Evans and Bonnie Hinemanu Evans alleging that, at the meeting of Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club held at Addington Raceway on 23 January 2020, as the trainers of the greyhound, GOLDSTAR SMITHIE, they “presented the greyhound to race 2.1 kgs down in weight from its last race start on 3 January 2020, this being the fourth breach of this Rule in the preceding 120 days.” The charge is in breach of rule 45.11 of the Greyhound Racing New Zealand Rules of Racing.

[2] The Information was served on the representative of the Respondents on the raceday, Miss Katie Wyllie. She had signed the Statement by the Respondent on the Information form indicating that the breach of the Rule was admitted.

[3] Mr Evans was present at the hearing of the Information and, following the reading of the charge and Rule to him, he confirmed that the training partnership admitted the charge.

[4] The charge was found proved accordingly.

The Rule

[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 Rule 45.12.

Facts

[6] Mr Wallis said that he was Chairman of Stewards at the meeting of Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club held at Addington Raceway on 23 January 2020.

[7] GOLDSTAR SMITHIE was presented for a mandatory pre-race veterinary inspection and weighing by licensed handler, Miss Katie Wylie.

[8] The greyhound weighed in officially at 29.6 kilograms. This was down 2.1 kilograms from its last recorded weight of 31.7 kilograms, which was on 3 January 2020.

Penalty Submissions of the Informant

[9] Mr Wallis said that the breach would normally be dealt with by way of a minor infringement, but this was the Respondents’ fourth breach of the rule in the preceding 120 days.

[10] Those breaches were as follows:

16 December 2019 – GOLDSTAR POWER – up 1.7 kgs
10 January 2020 – GOLDSTAR REBEL – down 1.8 kgs
10 January 2020 – GOLDSTAR POWER – down 1.7 kgs

[11] Mr Wallis submitted that the Racing Integrity Unit had, in the past, submitted for a fine of $300 for a fourth breach of the Rule. Fines for fourth breaches have been in the range of $200-$550 (the higher later reduced to $300 on appeal). He referred to the two cases of RIU v McInerney (May 2019 and December 2019).

[12] Penalties for breaches of the Rule have been fact dependent, Mr Wallis submitted, and he said that the Committee should be left to decide the amount of the fine in the circumstances.

Submissions of the Respondents

[13] Mr Evans referred to the breach involving GOLDSTAR POWER on 16 December. Following that breach, he said, he told his staff to get the dog’s weight down as it was too heavy by 1-2 kilograms. The dog next raced on 10 January 2020 (25 days later) and, had there been racing for Class 1 dogs over Christmas and New Year, its weight could have been brought down in stages over a period of 3-4 weeks. The dogs would normally race every Tuesday and have their weights registered. Had the dog been able to start every week, they would have been able to get its weight down, he said. Once they succeeded in getting the dog’s weight down, its form improved immediately, with a 3rd and then a win in its next two starts.

[14] A similar situation applied in relation to GOLDSTAR REBEL. She did not race for 21 days. She had not run a placing in her last nine starts. When they got her weight down, she ran two 3rd placings in her next three starts. Likewise, had Christmas racing been available for her, they would have been able to gradually bring her weight down.

[15] In this fourth breach involving GOLDSTAR SMITHIE, the circumstances were very similar. He was down 2.1 kilograms and had not raced for a period of three weeks. They had successfully got his weight down and he had raced and won (on 23rd January).

[16] Mr Evans said that he was doing his best for himself, as an owner and trainer, to present his dogs at the right weights to race well. He has already been penalised $300 for the previous two breaches and is facing another fine for the present breach. He stressed that the kennel has had 1,000 starters and it is easy to commit a breach of the weight Rule when you run a large kennel block. They race between 30 and 50 dogs per week. He and his wife split the number of dogs and train half each, and they employ other staff in addition. A lean or a fatty batch of meat can result in a breach. To put on 1½ kilograms in not difficult, especially over a three weeks period, he said.

[17] Staff had been left in charge of GOLDSTAR SMITHIE over the three-weeks period as Mr Evans was on holiday. He had instructed that the dog be given an extra feed but, in the event, the dog did drop weight and it did race well. There had been no intent to break the Rule or affect the dog’s performance.

[18] In response to a question from the Committee, Mr Wallis said that the three breaches referred to in para [12] and the present breach involving GOLDSTAR SMITHIE were the only weight breaches on Mr & Mrs Evans’ record in the last 12 months.

Reasons for Penalty

[19] The Respondents’ kennel races a large number of dogs on a regular basis. Prior to the breach involving GOLDSTAR POWER on 16th December last, they had a clear record as far as breaches of the Rule were concerned going back 12 months. In the circumstances, this is an excellent record by any standards.

[20] The problems for the Respondents started with the overweight breach involving GOLDSTAR POWER $100 on 16th December. That breach incurred a fine of $100 as a minor infringement.

[21] Mr Evans gave to the Committee a very plausible explanation for the second and third breaches, and for this present breach involving the greyhound, GOLDSTAR SMITHIE. With a lack of available racing opportunities for those dogs over the Christmas-New Year period they had all put on weight, the Respondents now finding themselves, within a very short period of time, facing a fourth breach.

[22] This breach is not, we are satisfied, a result of recklessness or bad management by the Respondents and we can fully understand the reason for this breach, based on what Mr Evans told us. All we can say is that it might have been prudent for them, in anticipation of possible weight problems as a result of lack of racing, for the Respondents to have taken some steps to check GOLDSTAR SMITHIE’s weight at home. Taking the other three breaches, which Mr Evans has explained to us, out of the equation, the Respondents’ record is then a very good one.

[23] The matter of fines for third or subsequent breaches of the rule was recently considered by an Appeals Tribunal in the case of RIU v McInerney (November 2019). In that decision, the Tribunal agreed with the Judicial Committee in an earlier case that a penalty consistent with penalties for a third or subsequent breach was a $300 fine. The Tribunal also commented that the fact should not be lost sight of that a breach of the Rule is categorised as a “minor offence”. Fines need to be set with that in mind. It is not a serious breach of the Rules.

Penalty

[24] The training partnership of Mr and Mrs Evans is fined the sum of $300.

Costs

[25] The Informant did not seek an order for costs and, since the hearing took place on a raceday, there will be no order for costs in favour of the Judicial Control Authority.

R G McKENZIE

Chairman

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