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NZGRA Request for Review S Evans v RIU - Written Decision dated 12 March 2018 - Chair, Prof G Hall

Created on 14 March 2018

BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF

THE JCA IN CHRISTCHURCH

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

BETWEEN

MR STEVE EVANS, Licensed Trainer

Applicant

AND RACING INTEGRITY UNIT (RIU)

Respondent

Judicial Committee: Prof G Hall, Chairman

Mr A Smith, Committee Member

Appearing: The applicant in person

Mr J McLaughlin, Stipendiary Steward, for the respondent

WRITTEN DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

[1] The applicant, Mr Evans, has requested a review of the decision from Race 8, at a race meeting of the Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club held on Thursday 1 March 2018 at Addington where OPAWA CHEVIOT was stood down for 28 days, plus one satisfactory trial, 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] The matter was heard Addington raceway on Friday 9 March and an oral decision was given to the effect that the review was not successful. We indicated that we would give our reasons in writing.

[3] After hearing from the parties, it was decided that Mr McLaughlin would present the RIU’s case first.

Respondent’s submissions

[4] On Thursday 1 March 2018 the Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club held its race meeting at Addington Raceway. The Chairman of Stewards at the meeting was Mr J McLaughlin and his deputy on the day was Mr D Wadley.

[5] The dog in question, OPAWA CHEVIOT, is trained by Licensed Public Trainer, Mr S Evans of Christchurch.

[6] OPAWA CHEVIOT was correctly nominated and started from Box draw 3 in race 8, the SHIRLEY VET CLINIC STAKES, which was a Class 4/5 race run over 520 metres.

Respondent’s case

[7] Mr McLaughlin said the Stewards had concerns with OPAWA CHEVIOT’s racing manners when watching the race and on reviewing the films they ordered a post-race veterinary inspection of OPAWA CHEVIOT. This revealed no obvious abnormalities.

[8] The Stewards were concerned, in particular, that OPAWA CHEVIOT appeared to voluntarily ease free of interference while running into the first turn.

[9] The Stewards questioned co-trainer Mr S Evans and on showing him the video asked if there was interference to OPAWA CHEVIOT at the stage of the race where they alleged the dog had eased. He agreed there was no interference. He stated it was the dog’s racing pattern, in that it gets back in its races.

[10] The Stewards determined that OPAWA CHEVIOT voluntarily eased free from interference racing into the first bend and thus was guilty of failing to pursue the lure. The dog was stood down for 28 days plus one satisfactory trial for failing to pursue the lure.

[11] Mr McLaughlin demonstrated on the videos, concentrating in particular on the side-on angle, that in the Stipendiary Stewards’ opinion OPAWA CHEVIOT eased for 3 strides at the winning post on the first occasion. The dog was free of interference and was not under pressure from another dog. OPAWA CHEVIOT had put in 3 short strides before stretching out again. He estimated the dog lost 3 lengths at that time.

[12] Mr McLaughlin said the race was run early evening and the track conditions were good.

[13] With respect to the fact that OPAWA CHEVIOT was a stayer, Mr McLaughlin accepted the dog often settled near the rear in its races and mounted runs from the back. He said he would have expected OPAWA CHEVIOT to have stayed closer to the 4 and 8 dogs (RIDE AIN'T OVER and AMERICAN WARRIOR), which had also settled at the rear. However, OPAWA CHEVIOT had lost 3 lengths on them.

[14] Mr McLaughlin said while the dog had had previous issues, they were when the dog was with a different trainer and were not relevant to this breach.

Applicant’s case

[15] Mr Evans stated the incident was caused by the number 8 dog, AMERICAN WARRIOR, coming across from the outside of the track in front of OPAWA CHEVIOT. He said OPAWA CHEVIOT was a very timid dog and had seen trouble. The move by AMERICAN WARRIOR was quite quick and sharp and, while there had been no contact, he believed if OPAWA CHEVIOT had not eased it would have been forced against the rail.

[16] Mr Evans stated the dog was running out of its grade. It was a Class 4 dog competing against predominantly Class 5 dogs. AMERICAN WARRIOR had won the NZ Cup and the dog leading the race in question had been runner up in that race. This race was being run at good speed and this was why OPAWA CHEVIOT could not keep up.

[17] OPAWA CHEVIOT had raced 2 days earlier at Dunedin. It had raced below par. It was a disappointing effort. No injury had been detected and he had thoroughly checked the dog before racing it at Addington.

[18] OPAWA CHEVIOT had had 3 weeks off due to injury prior to the Dunedin race and was still not a 100% fit. It was predominantly a 600 metre dog that did not like to race on the pace. The dog’s statistics were 80 starts for 12 wins, 13 seconds and 12 thirds. OPAWA CHEVIOT was a strong staying dog and, had the race been over 645 metres, he would have been winding up into the finish of the race.

[19] Mr Evans showed videos of 4 previous races in which OPAWA CHEVIOT competed. These demonstrated he usually settled at the rear and ran on around the outside of the field.

[20] Mr Evans said in the race in question OPAWA CHEVIOT was the outsider in the field. People who invested on the dog did so in the knowledge it would drop back and charge home.

[21] Mr Evans reiterated in his view, had OPAWA CHEVIOT not eased, it would have been forced into the rail. He believed the dog was not currently carrying an injury. It had had injuries and was not going as good as it had in the past.

[22] The Committee asked Mr Evans if he had taken the opportunity to request a second veterinarian check. He advised that he had not.

[23] When questioned by the Committee with respect to the 3 strides in issue, Mr Evans said OPAWA CHEVIOT had seen AMERICAN WARRIOR coming across quickly from a very wide position on the track and that there was going to be trouble and had eased because the dog did not want to get hurt. Had the dog pushed hard through the gap he believed “it would have copped an injury.” The dog had “used its common-sense” and had run on “okay”.

Summing up

[24] Mr McLaughlin said there was no interference to OPAWA CHEVIOT from either the 4 or the 8 dog. Had there been so, the dog would not have been stood down. OPAWA CHEVIOT had voluntarily eased free of interference.

[25] Mr McLaughlin stated that in the videos displayed by Mr Evans there were reasons why the dog had eased. Usually this was because the dog was being pressured by other dogs. This had not been the case in the race in question.

[26] Mr Evans said the dog was still not 100% fit and had not voluntarily eased but had raced in an manner consistent with its usual racing pattern.

Decision

[27] Failing to pursue the lure is defined in r 1, which reads:

Fails to Pursue the Lure: means 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.

[28] Just past the winning post and entering the first bend OPAWA CHEVIOT was racing adjacent to the running rail with RIDE AINT OVER a neck back and sitting outside him. AMERICAN WARRIOR, after jumping slowly, was sitting 3 wide outside RIDE AINT OVER and approximately 1/2 length behind OPAWA CHEVIOT. AMERICAN WARRIOR accelerated past RIDE AINT OVER and OPAWA CHEVIOT and crossed to the rail.

[29] At this point OPAWA CHEVIOT voluntarily eased for approximately 3 strides which resulted in a loss of some 3 lengths.

[30] OPAWA CHEVIOT had clear galloping room, and there was no pressure from any other dog on OPAWA CHEVIOT to cause him to ease. OPAWA CHEVIOT continued to race at the back of the field and passed one dog in the final straight to finish sixth, 13 lengths from the winner. On the day of the incident Mr Evans agreed with the Stewards that no interference had occurred. And significantly, we are satisfied that AMERICAN WARRIOR has not interfered with OPAWA CHEVIOT.

[31] Mr Evans showed 4 videos of previous runs of OPAWA CHEVIOT in order to demonstrate his racing style. It is noted that in each of these videos OPAWA CHEVIOT settled back and ran on in his races. The Committee does not dispute that this is his racing style.

[32] The 4 videos also showed that OPAWA CHEVIOT had previously been placed in restricted room and under pressure from dogs around him. Despite contact, and on occasion having to check off heels, at no stage had OPAWA CHEVIOT eased voluntarily in these races.

[33] We are satisfied that OPAWA CHEVIOT has voluntarily eased for 3 strides when free of interference. It has thus failed to chase the lure and is in breach of r 55.1(b). The review is not successful.

Dated at Dunedin this 12th day of March 2018.

Geoff Hall, Chairman

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