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Request for a Ruling RIU and S Clark - Decision dated 18 July 2018 - Chair, Prof G Hall

Created on 18 July 2018

BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF

THE JUDICIAL CONTROL AUTHORITY

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

BETWEEN RACING INTEGRITY UNIT (RIU)

Informant

AND STEVE CLARK, Licensed Trainer

Respondent

Information: A11002

Judicial Committee: Prof G Hall, Chairman

Mr D Jackson, Member

RULING OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

[1] The RIU have lodged an information requesting a ruling as to the eligibility of the greyhound PINNY MAC “to be entered in the Amazing Race, based on the conditions of the race.”

[2] PINNY MAC is a recent import from Perth, Australia, and is trained by Mr Clark.

[3] PINNY MACK was stood down for 28 days on 24 March 2018 at Cannington Park under r 69A of the Western Australia Rules of Greyhound Racing. This rule provides:

“R69A Failing to pursue (1) Unless Rule 69B otherwise applies, where, in the opinion of the Stewards, a greyhound fails to pursue the lure with due commitment during an Event, the Stewards shall impose a period of suspension in respect of the greyhound pursuant to sub-rule (2), and the specifics shall be recorded in the relevant Controlling Body Register, or where applicable, the Certificate of Registration or Weight Card of the greyhound.

(2) The period of suspension imposed pursuant to sub-rule (1) shall be- (a) in the case of a first offence, at the track where the offence occurred, 28 days and until the completion of a satisfactory trial; or (b) subject to R70, in the case of a second offence, at all tracks, 3 months, and until the completion of a satisfactory trial; or (c) in the case of a third or subsequent offence, at all tracks, 12 months and until the completion of a satisfactory trial.

[4] Upon our receiving the request, we asked the Executive Officer of the Judicial Control Authority (JCA) to convene a teleconference that afternoon but Mr Clark was not able to participate due to there being a greyhound race meeting that day.

[5] The Amazing Race is to be conducted by the Wanganui GRC at their meeting at Hatrick raceway on July 27.

[6] There is some urgency with respect to this ruling as we understand there is fixed odds betting on the race. We therefore required GRNZ, the RIU and Mr Clark to prepare written submissions by 4 pm Monday 16 July.

[7] We have now received these submissions and further supplementary submissions as a result of our producing a further minute requesting same.

[8] We turn first to the New Zealand Rules of Greyhound Racing.

[9] Rule 66.2 authorises a Steward to file an information with the Executive Officer of the JCA in the form prescribed by the JCA from time to time provided the consent of the operations manager of the Integrity Service Provider has first been obtained.

[10] Mr Whiterod has provided a letter from Mr Godber, General Manager of the RIU, dated 12 July, authorising the lodging of the information.

[11] Rule 38.9 provides:

“Where a Greyhound fails to perform to the satisfaction of the Stewards or an Authorised Person, the Stewards or the Authorised Person may, after considering any submission made by the Trainer or person in charge of the Greyhound, order that the Greyhound undergo one or more Satisfactory Trials and/or such action as they deem necessary before being eligible to compete further in any Race. No appeal shall lie in respect of an order made to undergo one or more Satisfactory Trials.”

[12] Rule 38.10 provides:

“Where a Greyhound is ordered pursuant to these Rules to undergo a Satisfactory Trial the Greyhound shall not be permitted to compete in or be nominated for any Race until there has been compliance with the following provisions:

(a) The Trainer of the Greyhound shall make application to a Club that the Satisfactory Trial be conducted.

(b) The Club upon receipt of such application shall make the necessary arrangements and shall advise the Trainer accordingly.

(c) The Satisfactory Trial shall be conducted with a field of Greyhounds as determined by the Stewards over a similar distance or distance approved by the Stewards. For clearance at all venues the Satisfactory Trial may be performed at any venue.

(d) The Satisfactory Trial shall be completed in the presence of and to the satisfaction of a Steward or Authorised Person.

[13] We understand from the submission from GRNZ that PINNY MAC has trialled and qualified on 5 July.

[14] It can readily be seen that these rules make no reference to a greyhound that has been stood down from racing by a racing authority outside this country. This eventuality is covered by the GRNZ Policy: “GRNZ Grading Of Imports And Overseas Form”. The relevant parts of this read as follows:

3.The onus will now be placed upon the licensed person importing the greyhound to provide the correct, official form in respect of that dog. To this end LP’s will now be required to sign a standard declaration endorsing the fact that they have provided the official form in respect of the greyhound being imported or returning back to New Zealand – the completion of this declaration is mandatory and the greyhound will not be able to race until this requirement is met. Unless the approved official form is received, the imported greyhound will not be graded by GRNZ for racing purposes.

5. It is also a requirement that licensed persons furnish GRNZ with a copy of the steward’s report pertaining to the greyhound’s last race day start overseas, thus removing the possibility that there isn’t any relevant racing endorsement (eg: stand down period).

6. It is also a requirement that licenced persons furnish GRNZ with a copy of any current endorsements, raceday or otherwise, that have resulted in any stand down.”

[15] This Policy makes no reference to the nature of the stand down.

[16] Rule 35.1 is also relevant. It states:

“Owners of all imported Greyhounds must provide the Chief Executive with an official race record and meet all other conditions as prescribed from time to time by the Board in respect of a Greyhound which has raced overseas prior to Nominating the said Greyhound for any Race.”

[17] Mr Kerr, the Head of Racing for GRNZ, has confirmed that Mr Clark has provided GRNZ with all the relevant documentation (email 17 July 12.11 pm) and that PINNY MACK was registered in New Zealand on 15 June (email 17 July 09.23 pm).

[18] Mr Clark, as noted previously, wishes to start PINNY MACK in the Amazing Race. The relevant part of the conditions for this race are:

“• The Amazing Chase shall be open to all greyhounds C1 and above who are eligible to race in New Zealand at Noon on Wednesday 20 June 2018.”

[19] The crucial issue is thus whether PINNY MACK was “eligible to race in New Zealand at Noon on Wednesday 20 June 2018.”

[20] Mr Clark and GRNZ believe that the dog is eligible; the RIU believes the dog is not.

Submissions

[21] Mr Clark in an email of 16 July at 8.10 am states:

“There is no argument PINNY MACK came to New Zealand with a stand down. At the start of June, I contacted GRNZ to find out about conditions of the Amazing Chase regarding PINNY MACK and checked on the eligibility clause. I was told that as long as he requalified before he was nominated for a trial or a race that he was eligible. Being a trainer who prides himself in making sure his dogs are ready, I started preparing him with handslips and solo trials thinking I have plenty of time to requalify him.

On 20 June again i contacted GRNZ to confirm he was eligible and again was told yes, he was and he just had to requalify before he ran in a trial or race for the Amazing Chase. If I had been told he had to be requalified before the 20th I would have done that or not nominated. This has been taken out of my hands which I believe is totally unfair. What more can a trainer do but contact GRNZ the people who write the rules and who are running the race? At that stage it was nothing to do with the RIU as they are there to administer rules not make rules.

I find it hard to accept that the race can now go ahead as I have not had the right decision from the start and as again I have said that there was a chance of requalifying him before the 20th if I knew that was required as part of the eligibility clause but was told it wasn't.

[22] GRNZ advised this Committee as follows:

Trainer Steve Clark contacted the GRNZ office early in June and asked if recently imported greyhound PINNY MACK would be eligible to be nominated for the Amazing Chase 2018.

After reading the Stipe’s report from Western Australia it was understood by the GRNZ Racing Department that the dog had been stood down at Cannington track only for 28 days. As the 28 day stand down had already expired (it expired on 20th April 2018) we advised Mr Clark that it would be recommended the dog be requested to perform a satisfactory trial before racing in an official engagement. Mr Clark agreed that a satisfactory trial would be a good idea and was then again advised that entering the Amazing Chase 2018 would be acceptable as long as the dog was not on a stand down and was registered to race in NZ at midday on 20th June 2018.

Further to this Mr Clark was also advised that no Amazing Chase solo trial time would be recorded or that any official race time registered on the Amazing Chase leaderboard until the dog had completed its requested performance trial. We offered this advice believing that so long as this course of action was followed, he would still have almost the entire month of July to register qualifying times in a bid to make the Amazing Chase final which would be run on 27th July 2018.

The Racing Department who offered this advice had interpreted and understood the conditions along the lines of trainers being asked to register interest in the series and pay the required donation fee on the basis that all dogs must be registered for racing in NZ at the close of nominations for the Amazing Chase 2018, rather than considering this as an official nomination for an official race. We were on the understanding that this was more of an entry criteria required to enter into the series. If the dog in question had then either failed to post an official adequate qualifying time or alternatively received a stand down during the Amazing Chase qualifying period which impacted on its eligibility to participate on the 27th July 2018 in the Amazing Chase final, it would therefore simply not be considered for the final when the field was assembled at the conclusion of the qualifying period.

Stu Cashen wrote the conditions for the 2018 Amazing Chase on behalf of GRNZ and has been asked to clarify two sections in regards to these conditions and his response is below:

"Firstly, last year there was no C1 restriction, you may remember we altered this after the AC opened this year to enable the race to be penalty free.

Secondly, the criteria able to race in NZ was written in to make quite sure that dogs on stand downs etc could not nominate, as is the case with normal race nominations. This was to ensure that when the FOB markets opened all the entrants were, at that stage, able to race. It would not be fair to punters to include dogs that may not pass satisfactory trials or recover from injuries".

[23] GRNZ’s position in this case is that “the owner/trainer/importer has supplied us with all the relevant documentation, and has been open and honest with us on the dog’s stand downs and reasons why. We have looked at the steward/database reports and read the one failing to pursue charge as one that is that track specific as per the rule that was previously submitted (r 69A) If the dog was a second offence, the stand down in our opinion would be applicable across all tracks as per the previous highlighted reference. (email 17 July 12.11 pm).

[24] (We emphasise that this was PINNY MACK’s first breach of the failing to pursue rule.)

[25] The RIU’s position is simple. As PINNY MACK was stood down and had not requalified by noon 20 June, the dog was not eligible to be nominated.

[26] More particularly the RIU has submitted:

The view of the RIU is that the Race conditions have been spelled out very clearly and that it is open to all Greyhounds C1 and above who are eligible to race in New Zealand at Noon on Wednesday 20th June 2018.

Due to PINNY MAC being stood down in Australia for Failing to Pursue the Lure, the dog was required to complete a satisfactory trial before being eligible to race in New Zealand. The dog had not completed the trial by the 20.06.2018 at noon and so was therefore not eligible to enter.

Any greyhound arriving in New Zealand with a Marring or Failing to Pursue endorsement beside its name from Australia, is required to complete a Satisfactory Trial before a Steward and that is the same for any Greyhound with an endorsement received after racing in this country. This process is accepted and understand by all NZ Stewards and the Stewards take great care to ensure that this process is followed at all times.

It is also the view of the members of the overview committee for the Amazing Chase, that PINNY MAC is not eligible for the race.

[27] We observe that we are unaware of the composition of the overview committee for the Amazing Chase and this is the only submission that we have received that refers to that Committee.

Decision

[28] PINNY MACK was stood down at Mandurah on 16 February for an unsatisfactory performance but was allowed to race at Cannington on 24 March where it was stood down for failing to pursue. We understand the reason the dog was able to race at Cannington was because the previous stand down was course specific to Mandurah. The Cannington stand down is course specific as well (to Cannington). We note PINNY MACK’s record under the heading “Penalty Type” describes the “Failing to chase 1st offence” as a “Track Penalty” (emphasis added).

[29] The GRNZ Rules and policies make no reference to course specific stand downs. Mr Kerr has informed this Committee that “NZ has always treated a dog with a stand down as needing to perform a satisfactory trial, however the Rules and policies are silent on this. There is an understanding from stewards and previous racing committee members that it might have been a policy but no one can find anything today. It could have been altered by a previous administrator, but the policy is set and approved by the GRNZ Board.” (email 17 July 12.11 pm)

[30] We have a situation where we have an established practice in New Zealand that greyhounds which have been stood down overseas, whether this be a first or second stand down, or a course specific stand down, have not been allowed to race until the dog has completed a satisfactory trial.

[31] Of concern to us, is that no provision or allowance has been made for a course specific stand down. It is simply treated in the same manner as any other stand down. It is evident on the limited information that has been produced before us that this is not the case in Australia. In other words, a course specific stand down is treated as such in that country.

[32] We are told by Mr Kerr (email 17 July 12.11 pm) that course specific stand downs are becoming more common in Australia. He was not able to assist us with respect to when these types of stand downs first commenced. It may be that the reason there is no policy or rule relating to this issue is that they were not common when the rule/policy was written or when they were later updated. But that is speculation and, more importantly, it is not determinative of the information requesting a ruling that is before us.

[33] We have no difficulty in accepting the current practice in New Zealand is that any stand down means a dog cannot race until it has trialled satisfactorily, but significantly, there is no rule or policy that authorises this practice.

[34] Clearly this is a matter that the Board of GRNZ will be able to address but when we have regard to the conditions of the Amazing Chase, we are left with the conclusion that in accordance with the current rules and policies of GRNZ, PINNY MACK was eligible to race in New Zealand at the time nominations closed for the Amazing Chase; ie noon 20 June 2018.

[35] Eligibility to race is not expressly conditional on a greyhound, which has previously been stood down by way of a track specific penalty, having trialled satisfactorily as at the date that nominations for the Amazing Chase closed. Provided a greyhound is registered in New Zealand and eligible to race as at the closing date for nominations there is no bar on the greyhound trialling satisfactorily at a later date noting, as pointed out by GRNZ, that any greyhound which does not so trial or is otherwise stood down during the selection of the final field, will not make that field.

[36] The policy and the Rules read together confirm that eligibility is dependent on registration in New Zealand. PINNY MACK was registered in New Zealand on 15 June 2018. We therefore rule that PINNY MACK is eligible to compete in the Amazing Chase.

Dated at Dunedin this 18th day of July 2018.

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