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NZGRA Request for Review C Roberts v RIU - Written Decision dated 30 April 2018 - Chair, Prof G Hall

Created on 01 May 2018

BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

HELD AT CHRISTCHURCH

IN THE MATTER of the Rules of New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association (Incorporated) 

BETWEEN

CRAIG ROBERTS, Licensed Trainer

Applicant

AND RACING INTEGRITY UNIT (RIU)

Respondent

Judicial Committee: Prof G Hall, Chairman

Mr S Ching, Committee Member

Present: Mr C Roberts, Applicant

Mr R Quirk, Stipendiary Steward, Respondent

Date of Hearing: 26 April 2018

Venue: Addington Raceway, Christchurch

Date of oral Decision: 26 April 2018

Date of written Decision: 30 April 2018

WRITTEN DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

[1] At the meeting of the Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club held at Addington Raceway on 20 April 2018, the greyhound DYNA WALTER, trained by Mr Roberts started in race 10, the FOX & FERRET @ THE PALMS MAIDEN (Heat 2), which was a Class 0 race run over 520 metres. DYNA WALTER started from Box draw 5 and won the race.

[2] This was DYNA WALTER’s first start, with the dog having qualified at Addington Raceway on 13 April. DYNA WALTER had attempted to qualify on 19 December, 2 January and 6 April but did not qualify on those occasions due to marring other runners in these trials.

[3] Mr Quirk stated that following the race the Stewards conducted an inquiry into the racing conduct of DYNA WALTER. Of particular concern to Stewards were the greyhound’s manners when turning its head inwards towards the greyhound on its inside immediately after the start of the race.

[4] As part of their investigation Stewards directed that DYNA WALTER be subjected to a post-race veterinary examination as per r 55.2. There were no apparent findings reported from the on-course veterinarian after this examination took place.

[5] Stewards viewed all of the available films and heard submissions from Mr Dan Roberts regarding the racing conduct of DYNA WALTER at this stage of the race. After taking into account Mr Roberts’ submissions, the veterinary report and the viewing of available films, the two Stewards officiating on the day, Mr Wadley and Mr Quirk, were satisfied that DYNA WALTER had breached r 55.1(b) in that the dog had failed to pursue the lure as defined under r 1.

[6] The Stipendiary Stewards suspended DYNA WALTER for 28 days under r 55.1.b for failing to pursue the lure.

[7] On 23 April Mr Roberts applied for a review of the decision of the Stipendiary Stewards in accordance with rr 55.11 and 66.20. His reason for disagreeing with the decision of the Stewards was that DYNA WALTER had chased the whole race.

[8] After discussing the issue with the parties, it was decided that Mr Quirk would present the RIU’s case first.

The RIU’s case

[9] Mr Quirk identified the definition of “fails to pursue the lure” as set out in the Rules:

“FAILS TO PURSUE THE LURE” means the action of a Greyhound voluntarily turning the head without making contact with another Greyhound, or voluntarily easing up, or stopping during a Race while free of interference.

[10] Mr Quirk demonstrated on the head-on film that in his opinion DYNA WALTER had turned its head inwards towards GOLDSTAR WILSON (2) while free of interference in the initial stages of the race and made contact with that runner causing it to lose ground. DYNA WALTER then straightened up and pursued the lure. DYNA WALTER went on to win the race. He said it was apparent from the video that after the initial strides the dog was intent on concentrating on the inside dog and not the lure. This was a breach of r 55.1.b.

[11] DYNA WALTER, Mr Quirk believed, had turned its head inwards towards the inside runner for two to three strides. The first two or three strides after DYNA WALTER left the boxes were not of concern as DYNA WALTER was simply looking for the lure. The next two to two and a half were, however, in that the angle of the neck of DYNA WALTER was stretched to the inside towards GOLDSTAR WILSON. As soon as body contact was made with this dog, DYNA WALTER re-focused, straightened up and chased the lure as required by the Rules.

[12] Mr Quirk demonstrated on the side on film that there was contact with the left shoulder of the 2 dog (GOLDSTAR WILSON), which was turned sideways and lost ground. He believed this was at the time of the third of the strides that were of concern to the stewards. Mr Quirk questioned whether DYNA WALTER was looking to marr GOLDSTAR WILSON at the time, although he emphasised this was not the reason DYNA WALTER was stood down, as there had not been muzzle contact.

[13] Mr Quirk went back to the head-on video and demonstrated that at the time DYNA WALTER’s head was turned, the head of each of the other dogs was looking towards the lure. He added that it was perhaps unfortunate that the 4 dog had missed the jump as this allowed DYNA WALTER to angle across towards GOLDSTAR WILSON. He believed if there had been contact, DYNA WALTER might have straightened earlier.

[14] Rule 55.1 did not provide for the level of offending to be a mitigating factor for the Stewards when determining whether a greyhound should be charged. Nor did it allow the finishing place of a greyhound to be a mitigating factor. Simply put, under the provisions of r 55.1 a greyhound had either breached the rule to any degree or it had not.

[15] Mr Quirk commented that Greyhound Racing carries with it the weight of public money and the Stewards had to be seen to be appropriately protecting this. Stewards had also to take into account the potential loss of confidence of any other runner that the dog’s actions might impact upon. The Stewards were charged with the responsibility of enhancing public confidence and integrity within Greyhound Racing by standing down greyhounds when required to do so under the Rules.

[16] Mr Quirk concluded his submission by stating he was satisfied that it was open for him as the Chairman of Stewards on the day to form the opinion that DYNA WALTER had failed to pursue the lure. The review should thus be dismissed and the stand down imposed on the day in question should stand.

Mr Roberts’ case

[17] Mr Roberts asked whether it was possible to show replays of the dog’s qualifying trials. Mr Quirk replied it was not. Mr Roberts said as a result of the dog having difficulty in qualifying there had been a re-education and the dog had been taught to jump across to the rail.

[18] At the trials the dog had been running in immediately the lids of the boxes were opened. The time DYNA WALTER qualified it had looked in but on that occasion the dog was looking to the rail to find the lure.

[19] Mr Roberts stated that his considered view was that DYNA WALTER was angling in towards the rail and its head was turned towards the rail looking for the lure.

[20] Mr Roberts said DYNA WALTER was half a length in front of GOLDSTAR WILSON when contact was made. He did not believe the dog had taken its eye off the lure. After contact, DYNA WALTER had chased the lure. He demonstrated on the video that at the finish of the race the dog was attacking the lure.

[21] Mr Roberts maintained that DYNA WALTER had taken a line to the rail looking for the lure and rather than the contact having an effect on the dog, he believed once DYNA WALTER realised the lure was in front, away the dog went. DYNA WALTER “bashing into GOLDSTAR WILSON” was because DYNA WALTER was continuing to run in a line to the rail.

Summing up

[22] Mr Quirk said it was the third and fourth strides after DYNA WALTER left the boxes that was of concern. For some two strides DYNA WALTER was looking for the 2 dog, GOLDSTAR WILSON. Its eyes were off the lure and were directed to GOLDSTAR WILSON. DYNA WALTER had voluntarily turned its head for two strides before contact.

[23] Mr Roberts replied that DYNA WALTER had already straightened before it hit GOLDSTAR WILSON. It was looking to run to the rail and was chasing the lure.

Decision

[24] We have found the head-on angle to be helpful. We agree with Mr Quirk that the first two or three strides of DYNA WALTER, when jumping from box 5, are not of concern. The dog is angling across towards the rail and its head appears to be angled towards the lure.

[25] When the videos of the dog’s next two or three strides are viewed in both normal time and slow motion the head of DYNA WALTER is clearly angled inwards towards GOLDSTAR WILSON and quite markedly so. The dog has voluntarily turned its head away from the lure. It is difficult to tell from the side-on video, even when slowed down, whether DYNA WALTER straightened before contact with GOLDSTAR WILSON, as Mr Roberts has alleged. It would appear the dog was still making an angled run at the time and, in our view, was not concentrating on the lure.

[26] Significantly, and importantly with respect to the wording of the rule, it is our belief that the head of DYNA WALTER is voluntarily turned inwards towards GOLDSTAR WILSON and away from the lure for some two to two and half strides, while the dog is free of interference. In these circumstances, we are satisfied on the balance of probabilities that DYNA WALTER has failed to pursue the lure.

[27] Mr Roberts’ application for a review is unsuccessful and the suspension on 20 April 2018 of DYNA WALTER for 28 days and the requirement to complete a satisfactory trial, pursuant to r 55.1(b) for failing to pursue the lure, is confirmed.

Dated at Dunedin this 30th day of April 2018.

Geoff Hall, Chairman

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