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NRI RIU v R Close - Decision dated 28 December 2019 - Chair, Mr D Anderson

Created on 03 January 2020

BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

IN THE MATTER of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing

IN THE MATTER of Information No. A9040

BETWEEN S RENAULT
Stipendiary Steward for the Racing Integrity Unit

Informant

AND R CLOSE of Woodend, Licensed Open Horseman
Respondent

Date of Hearing: 28 December 2019

Venue: Westport Racecourse, Westport.

Judicial Committee: D Anderson (Chair) - S Ching (Member)

Present: S Renault, the Informant - R Close, the Respondent

Date of Decision: 28 December 2019

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PENALTY DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

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The Charge
[1] Information No. A9040 alleges that:
R Close, as the driver of SAM’S TOWN, drove in a manner likely to cause interference to SILK (R Holmes) leaving the final bend when jostling for a position with that runner.

[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
[3] Rule 869(4) reads as follows;

(4) No horseman shall during any race do anything which interferes or is likely to interfere with his own horse and/or any other horse or its progress.

The Plea
[4] Mr Close had signed the Information that the breach was admitted. Mr Close stated he was conversant with the Rule.

Facts
[5] On 13 December 2019 at the NZMTC meeting at Addington Raceway, Mr R Close was the driver of SAM’S TOWN in Race 6, the Graphite Developments Show Day Futurity Cons. Mobile Pace and won the event.

Informant’s Evidence
[6] Mr Renault produced video replays of the incident which showed Mr Close, driving SAM’S TOWN racing in the one-one position, near the 400m. Mr Renault pointed out SILK, driven by Mr R Holmes, directly ahead of Mr Close.

[7] Mr Renault pointed out on the video, SAM’S TOWN, near the 400m, improve on the inside of SILK who had been pushed out 3 wide by another runner.

[8] Mr Renault demonstrated on the relevant video replays at the 300 metres, Mr Close, attempting to push Mr Holmes out wider on the track to obtain a clear run and Mr Holmes resisting.

[9] Mr Renault stated that the films clearly showed that Mr Close was just even with Mr Holmes and did not have a clear advantage, as required, over Mr Holmes, therefore not in a position to shift him up the track.

[10] He said the jostling from both drivers resulted in SILK galloping at approximately the 200 metres.

[11] Mr Renault stated that Mr Close’s actions are the reason that he was charged with driving in a manner likely to cause interference.

Submissions of Informant on Penalty
[12] Mr Renault for the RIU stated Mr Close’s driving statistics showing 383 drives last season with 144 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 mid-range and Mr Holmes had been charged over the same incident and fined $250.

[13] Mr Renault stated that the JCA Penalty Guide provided a 6-drive suspension or a $300 fine for a mid-range breach of this rule. He submitted that taking all factors into consideration, Mr Close’s admission and good record, the level of the breach and that Mr Close had instigated the jostling, a fine of $300 be considered as penalty.

Respondent’s Submissions
[14] Mr Close stated that he believed he had a clear advantage over Mr Holmes when attempting to shift him wider the track.

Submissions of Respondent on Penalty
[15] Mr R Close asked the Committee to have regard for his good record and admission and that Mr Holmes was also charged in relation to the incident.

Reasons for Penalty
[16] The JCA Penalty Guide provides a 6-drive suspension or a $300 fine for a mid-range breach of this Rule. This Committee agreed with Mr Renault that this breach was mid-range and consider there are no aggravating factors.

[17] Mitigating factors were Mr Close’s good record and his admission of the breach which we determined warranted a combined discount. This discount we set at $50.

[18] Taking all factors into account we determined that a fine was an appropriate penalty in this case. The level of this fine we set at $250.

Penalty

[19] Mr Close is fined the sum of $250.

D Anderson
Chair

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