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NZGRA Request for Review J McInerney v RIU - Reserved Decision dated 26 September 2018 - Chair, Prof G Hall

Created on 27 September 2018

BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF

THE JCA IN DUNEDIN

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

BETWEEN

JOHN MCINERNEY, Licensed Trainer

Applicant

AND RACING INTEGRITY UNIT (RIU)

Respondent

Judicial Committee: Prof G Hall, Chairman

Mr P Knowles, Member

Appearing: The Applicant in person

Mr S Wallis, Stipendiary Steward, for the Respondent

Date of hearing: 25 September 2018

Date of decision: 26 September 2018

RESERVED DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

[1] On 18 September 2018 the Southland Greyhound Racing Club held a race meeting at Ascot Park Raceway. The Chairman of Stewards at the meeting was Mr K Coppins.

[2] The dog in question, HOMEBUSH HUNDY, is trained by Licensed Public Trainer, Mr John McInerney of Christchurch. HOMEBUSH HUNDY competed in Race 10, the FIND US ON [email protected] for C1 greyhounds over 390 metres, and was stood down for 28 days and required to complete a satisfactory trial for failing to pursue the lure. This is an alleged breach of r 55.1.b of the GRNZ Rules of Racing.

[3] The relevant rule that the dog was suspended under reads as follows:

55.1 Where a Greyhound:
(b) Fails to pursue the lure in a race; the Stewards may impose the following periods of suspension: In the case of a first offence, 28 days and until the completion of a satisfactory trial.

[4] "Fails to pursue the lure" is defined in cl 1 of the rules as "the action of the Greyhound voluntarily turning the head without making contact with another Greyhound, or voluntarily easing up, or stopping during a Race while free of interference".

[5] On the day in question HOMEBUSH HUNDY was referred to the official veterinarian post-race and cleared of any injury. Mr Coppins then consulted with the kennel representative, Mr Brooke Wate, regarding the conduct of HOMEBUSH HUNDY. After hearing from Mr Wate, Mr Coppins charged the greyhound with failing to pursue the lure as per r 55.1.b.

[6] HOMEBUSH HUNDY has had 58 starts for 5 wins, 19 seconds and 5 thirds.

[7] Mr McInerney’s ground for review is that “in our opinion the dog didn’t ease and won the race”.

[8] Mr Wallis played the side-on video. He identified that HOMEBUSH HUNDY had drawn box 8 and was wearing the number 9 rug. The dog won the race.

[9] Mr Wallis stated that the Stewards’ concern was with the concluding stages of the race.

Applicant’s submissions

[10] Mr McInerney commenced his case by stating HOMEBUSH HUNDY had won the race. It had had time off recovering from injury. He said the dog was not the favourite and had beaten the favourite, which was a local dog, on the day. (We note HOMEBUSH HUNDY was in fact more favoured than the second dog, although HOMEBUSH HUNDY was not the off-course substitute.)

[11] Mr McInerney said HOMEBUSH HUNDY had not turned its head and had not interfered with any other dog.

[12] Mr McInerney said dogs chase on the basis of sight and sound and he emphasised it was not possible to tell from the videos where the lure was when HOMEBUSH HUNDY had allegedly failed to pursue.

[13] Mr McInerney said dogs may change their leading leg when entering a bend. HOMEBUSH HUNDY may have been doing that as the bend was close to the winning post. He added that HOMEBUSH HUNDY may only have been pulling up as all dogs do at the end of a race.

[14] Mr McInerney emphasised that HOMEBUSH HUNDY had had to come around the whole field to win the race, so it had gone further than all the other dogs in the race.

[15] Mr McInerney repeatedly said he did not think the dog had eased (as per r 55.1.b). The lure was slowing and the dog was racing straight as it passed the winning post and was about to enter the turn. He did not accept there had been a shortening of stride at the winning post.

[16] Mr McInerney believed any easing by the dog was due to its tiring. He emphasised the straight at Invercargill was the longest in the country; it was a one turn track. The distance of the race was also as far as he would want HOMEBUSH HUNDY to run.

[17] HOMEBUSH HUNDY had sprained a hock and it was some 20 days since it had raced. He had eased up on the dog for a week and it had received laser treatment. It had not been taken to a veterinarian; they had treated the dog themselves. The dog had had only one run over 350 metres behind the lure before the race in question. It had not trialled at a track.

[18] Mr McInerney stated he was confident the dog was “fine to race”. It had been vet checked after the race but this was one of the most cursory examinations Mr Wate had seen. Mr McInerney believed the dog might have had “a wee bit of tie up after the race”; it had been an 8 hour trip to the course the previous day and the dogs were at the track at 6 am to get ready for the meeting.

[19] Mr McInerney had checked the dog over when it was back at his kennels. He could not find any injury and therefore had not presented the dog for a further vet check.

[20] Mr McInerney believed the dog shortened stride after the post. He said the dog was a lure/noise chaser and just after the finish the lure would have started to slow. He said at no time did the dog turn its head or shift ground in the home straight, or cause interference to any other runner.

[21] Mr McInerney further stated that the dog had raced 58 times prior to the race and had never shown any tendency not to chase the lure. The winning time of 23.07 was what he considered was consistent with the dog’s ability.

[22] Mr McInerney concluded by reiterating that he did not believe the dog had eased or slowed (we take this to mean that it had not failed to pursue) and had done its best on the day. It had done all it could do and had won the race.

Respondent’s submissions

[23] Mr Wallis stated HOMEBUSH HUNDY had drawn box 8 and had come around the field to challenge for the lead in the home straight. He demonstrated on the side-on video that in his opinion HOMEBUSH HUNDY was a length in front of the dog that was running second. The margin at the end of the race was a neck. This was evidence, he believed, that HOMEBUSH HUNDY had eased prior to the line.

[24] Mr Wallis said that at the interview with the Stewards Mr Wate had said that the dog was possibly sore. However, Mr McInerney had not had the dog re-examined by a veterinarian. If the dog was sore, Mr McInerney should have presented the dog for a vet check.

[25] Mr Wallis believed that HOMEBUSH HUNDY had shortened stride for three strides short of the post. The first stride the Stewards could possibly accept but in the last two strides to the line HOMEBUSH HUNDY had eased significantly. Their opinion was that the dog had eased and was therefore not chasing the lure. He acknowledged it was a low end breach but it was a breach of the rule, nevertheless.

[26] With respect to the veterinarian on the day, Mr Wallis said it was the first time she had officiated by herself. The checks prior to the race were thorough; trainers had said the checks were “too thorough”.

[27] Mr Wallis also referred the Committee to the online Cambridge Dictionary definition of easing.

[28] Mr Wallis emphasised that racing greyhounds were essentially bred for one purpose only and that was to chase or pursue a lure. It was in their physical and mental make-up to do this and they were programmed to do so from an early stage of their lives. Greyhounds that failed to pursue the lure with due commitment throughout the entirety of the race effectively negated the only “protection mechanism” the wagering public had over their investment.

[29] Mr Wallis believed it was clear on the videos that HOMEBUSH HUNDY had eased up over the concluding stages of the race. He stated Mr Wate on the day had accepted that HOMEBUSH HUNDY had failed to pursue the lure and was concerned that the post-race vet check of the dog was sub-standard.

Summing up

[30] Mr McInerney said the side-on video when slowed down showed that HOMEBUSH HUNDY was in full stride at the post and was not cramped up. He questioned whether there was contact with another dog, in particular with the second placed dog, just before the post.

[31] Given that the dog was having its first run for a month, the long trip down from his kennels and the early start to the day, he was of the view that HOMEBUSH HUNDY had come to the end of its run short of the post. He emphasised that despite the dog being short of race fitness it had won the race.

[32] Mr Wallis stated that HOMEBUSH HUNDY had started to make less effort and had reduced intensity prior to the finishing line. The dog had eased up free of interference and the Stewards had thus been correct to stand down HOMEBUSH HUNDY.

Decision

[33] We have studied the videos carefully. Only the side-on angle is helpful although the head-on does show there was no interference to HOMEBUSH HUNDY. We are satisfied that despite Mr McInerney’s contention, when the side-on and head-on videos are synchronised, that HOMEBUSH HUNDY did not come into contact with the dog that finished second. The head-on angle is far from ideal, but no contact is evident.

[34] HOMEBUSH HUNDY started from box 8 and competed for the lead from the first bend. It raced about 3/4 of a length clear of the second dog and won the race by a neck.

[35] Mr McInerney is correct when he states that HOMEBUSH HUNDY had taken a full bound immediately prior to the winning post. Prior to this, both the first and second dogs were being caught by the two dogs that finished third and fourth as these dogs were solidly making up ground. This indicates that both HOMEBUSH HUNDY and the dog that finished second were tiring. Mr Wallis believes the side-on video shows that the second dog has gone from a length behind HOMEBUSH HUNDY to within a neck at the finish. It is not a true side-on angle so this calculation of a length is an estimation. It may be closer to 3/4 of a length.

[36] Mr McInerney has said the dog had had to be eased in its work prior to this start due to injury and that this would assist in explaining why HOMEBUSH HUNDY had come to the end of its run immediately prior to the winning post. It is accepted by both parties that HOMEBUSH HUNDY had had a hard run and had done more in the race than any other dog. This would be a further explanation for this conclusion.

[37] Mr Wallis has said that the dog’s handler, Mr Wate, when questioned by the Stewards on the day, agreed with their assessment that the dog had failed to chase the lure. The transcript of this interview certainly indicates that he did not disagree with the Stewards nor did he contend that HOMEBUSH HUNDY had chased the whole way. He appears to accept that the Stewards were intending to stand the dog down and was quick to state in its defence that the dog was most probably sore in the hock. He expressed his concern to the Stewards that the post-race veterinarian examination was not thorough and discussion then continued about the dog being revetted at a later date.

[38] Significantly, the side-on video does not show the lure as HOMEBUSH HUNDY is coming to the line. Mr McInerney has said that greyhounds rely on sound as well as sight and it is possible that as the lure slowed for the end of the race, the brake was applied, and that the noise of the lure changed.

[39] When the videos are slowed, HOMEBUSH HUNDY, as Mr McInerney has contended, and we have previously noted, is in full stride at the winning post. The dog’s head is straight and it has not suddenly come up, which, had that been so, would have suggested that HOMEBUSH HUNDY may have been voluntarily easing.

[40] Mr Wallis has asserted the dog eased for three strides before the winning post and that it is last two that are of concern. We believe the second stride that is of concern to the Stewards is right on the winning post. The slowing of the dog may have been because the dog was distracted by the noise of the lure easing off at the end of the race or it had simply come to the end of its run. The third and fourth placed dogs made up some 2 to 3 lengths on the two leading dogs, which indicates the leading dogs were starting to tire. HOMEBUSH HUNDY was having its first run back after a four week layoff. Mr McInerney stated HOMEBUSH HUNDY missed work and he regularly races his dogs twice a week so the dog may have not been 100 percent fit.

[41] We have to be satisfied to the standard of the balance of probabilities that HOMEBUSH HUNDY while free of interference has voluntarily eased and thus has failed to pursue the lure as is required by r 55.1.b. We are not.

[42] The review is successful and the 28 day stand down and satisfactory trial imposed under 55.1.b. by the Stewards on 18 September is lifted.

Dated at Dunedin this 26th day of September 2018.

Geoff Hall, Chairman

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