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NZGRA Request for Review L Martin v RIU - Written Decision dated 21 August 2018 - Chair, Prof G Hall

Created on 22 August 2018

BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

OF THE JCA

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

BETWEEN

MRS LINDA MARTIN, Trainer

Applicant

AND RACING INTEGRITY UNIT (RIU)

Respondent

Judicial Committee: Prof G Hall, Chairman

Mr A Dooley, Member

Appearing: Mr M Martin for the Applicant

Mr S Mulcay for the Respondent

WRITTEN DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

[1] The applicant, Mrs L Martin, has requested a review of the decision from Race 12 at the race meeting of the Waikato Greyhound Racing Club held on 9 August 2018 at Cambridge where the greyhound WEE MEREDITH was stood down (1st offence – 28 days) for failing to pursue the lure. This is an alleged breach of r 55.1(b) of the Greyhound Racing New Zealand Rules of Racing.

[2] Rule 55.1 provides:

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, twenty-eight (28) days and until the completion of a satisfactory trial.

[3] “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".

[4] The review was heard at Cambridge Raceway on 16 August. Mr M Martin appeared on behalf of his wife.

[5] Mr Mulcay requested that he be permitted to play the audio recording of the discussion the Stewards had had on the day with Mr Martin during which the issue of the stand down of WEE MEREDITH was considered. Mr Martin objected to this, stating that he had not been informed on the day that the conversation was being recorded and he was not aware at the time that it was recorded.

[6] We indicated that we would reserve our ruling on this matter until we had heard the submissions of the parties with respect to the substantive issue before us.

[7] After hearing from the parties, we determined that Mr Mulcay would present the RIU’s case first.

Respondent’s submissions

[8] WEE MEREDITH started in Race 12 the "Tom Thomson Appreciation Stakes" at the Waikato GRC's meeting held at Cambridge Raceway on 9 August 2018. The race was for C1 Greyhounds over 457 metres and WEE MEREDITH drew box number 2.

[9] Mr Mulcay commented on video replays of the race. WEE MEREDITH began fairly and checked off the heels of the number 3 dog during the early stages and shifted marginally wider on the track.

[10] WEE MEREDITH then lost ground entering the turn when clear of other runners before catching the field rounding the turn. WEE MEREDITH ran on over the final stages to finish in 6th place beaten 10.9 lengths.

[11] Mr Mulcay stated that before entering the turn WEE MEREDITH was racing proximate to the 1 dog and eased up to such an extent that the dog was almost out of camera shot.

[12] WEE MEREDITH was referred to the Veterinarian for examination pursuant to r 55.2. No abnormality was detected.

[13] An investigation was held whereby part-owner Mr Martin was interviewed in conjunction with the replays being viewed and made submissions in regard to the performance of WEE MEREDITH.

[14] After considering Mr Martin's submissions the Stewards found that WEE MERDITH had failed to pursue the lure in breach of r 55.1(b). After taking into account that this was WEE MEREDITH's first offence, the Stewards imposed a 28 day stand down provided under cl (c) along with a satisfactory trial that was to be completed prior to the dog resuming.

[15] In deciding that WEE MEREDITH had failed to pursue the lure, the Stewards on the day found on the balance of probabilities that the greyhound had eased of her own volition entering the bend while free of interference and had lost ground as a result.

[16] Mr Mulcay submitted that this was still the Stewards’ view and that the review should not be successful.

Applicant’s submissions

[17] Mr Martin opened his case by stating WEE MEREDITH has had 33 starts for 1 win and 6 placings.

[18] WEE MEREDITH was a slow beginner and would power home. She was thus better suited to distance races but there were not many of these anymore. It was thus very much a second choice to race her over a distance of 457 metres.

[19] WEE MEREDITH had jumped better in the race in question than she ever had and that was unfortunate as she had drawn box 2 and she panics if inside other dogs.

[20] Mr Martin submitted that research suggested bitches were more likely to do this and he also said WEE MEREDITH had a tendency when racing to veer to the right, to the outside of the track.

[21] Mr Martin said WEE MEREDITH was often last when turning for home and members of the public who invested on the dog would know this. That said, he acknowledged this was one of the worst examples of her being out the back of the field. He accepted she was 6 or 7 lengths last after racing into the bend.

[22] Mr Martin submitted that when WEE MEREDITH had found herself in a tighter space than usual, she had “made an error” and “braked instead of decelerated”. He said WEE MEREDITH had checked off another dog and had decided “I’m out of here”. He accepted she had voluntarily backed off but that was how she races. She had to get to the rear. He said she handled boxes 6 to 8 better than the other boxes, as she was to the outside of the field already.

[23] Mr Martin showed a video of race 10 at Manukau on 12 April when WEE MEREDITH had raced wide and at the rear of the field. The dog ran on to finish 5th. He said there was not much difference to the race in issue in that she had dropped out and finished stoutly. He said the dog was wider on the track and had not had to panic or drop out as much in that race, as she had got to the outside quicker.

[24] Mr Martin also showed the Committee a video of the performance of SWIFT FANTASY in the Wanganui Stayers’ Cup Final where that dog had won the race coming from last after racing at the rear of the field for some time. He questioned whether SWIFT FANTASY had failed to chase. He said the dog had been stood down in Australia for that offence.

Summing up

[25] Mr Mulcay summed up by stating the wording of the rule is clear and unambiguous. Viewed objectively, the Stewards were satisfied on the balance of probabilities, WEE MEREDITH had failed to pursue. Public and punter confidence was paramount. He questioned whether those persons who had invested on WEE MEREDITH had received a fair run for their money.

[26] Mr Martin replied WEE MEREDITH gets well back and runs on late. WEE MEREDITH was a wide running dog and if her actions on this occasion were found to be in breach, she could not race again.

[27] An assessment of whether a dog had pursued, Mr Martin believed, contrary to Mr Mulcay’s submission, was a subjective decision. Many stayers would back off and then run on. That was what WEE MEREDITH was doing on this occasion.

Decision

[28] We address first the issue of our hearing the audio of the discussion on the day between Mr Martin and Mr Mulcay. Mr Martin objects to our hearing this. We do not believe it would assist us and we refrain from making a ruling on this matter.

[29] WEE MEREDITH in the race in question has uncharacteristically, as we are told by Mr Martin, jumped out on terms with the field. She is in 4th position as the dogs enter the bend. She had drawn box 2 and thus there are a number of dogs to her outside. She then decelerates markedly when free of interference and drifts to the rear of the field. Initially WEE MEREDITH loses some 2 lengths, and she is racing to the inside of the 1 dog just before the bend. By the time WEE MEREDITH enters and rounds the bend she has eased further and is some 6 to 7 lengths behind the 1 dog and a conservative 4 or 5 lengths behind the second last dog.

[30] WEE MEREDITH has clearly eased to the point she is racing at the rear of the field. In so doing she has switched around the heels of other dogs of her own accord to a point where she is racing wider on the track.

[31] The videos evidence that WEE MEREDITH has lost some 6 or 7 lengths on the bend. This distance is not explained by the fact that she has shifted wider on the track or that she was shifting off the heels of other dogs.

[32] We take into account the racing manners of WEE MEREDITH. It is clear her pattern of racing is to run on from the rear of the field. The race that Mr Martin showed to us (race 10 at Manukau on 12 April) evidences this fact. However, at no time has WEE MEREDITH eased to the extent that she has in the race before us, nor is she as great a distance behind the second to last dog.

[33] In race 12 at Cambridge on 9 August WEE MEREDITH has eased and lost significant ground whilst racing free of interference. In so doing, we are satisfied that WEE MEREDITH’s actions can be described as the dog “voluntarily easing up” which falls within the definition of “failing to pursue the lure”.

[34] We thus uphold the decision of the Stewards on the day.

[35] The review is unsuccessful and the 28 day stand down and requirement to complete a satisfactory trial pursuant to r 55.1(b) is confirmed.

Dated at Dunedin this 21st day of August 2018.

Geoff Hall, Chairman

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