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Auckland RC 10 January 2021 – R 1 – Chair, Mr G Jones

Created on 15 January 2021

Rules:
638(3)(b)(ii)
Committee:
GJones (chair)
DAnderson
Name(s):
Ms P Gerard - Employer and Licensed Trainer assisting Miss McCall
Miss E McCall - Apprentice Rider of ISKANDER
Mr A Dooley - Stipendiary Steward
Informant
Mr M Williamson - Senior Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
A13447
Plea:
Admitted
Charge:
Excessive use of whip
Evidence:

This charge arises from the running of Race 1, the Premier Horse Transport 2100. An Information was filed pursuant to Rule 638(3)(b)(ii) by the Informant, Mr Williamson, alleging that Apprentice Rider, Miss E McCall used her whip excessively when riding ISKANDER prior to the 100 metres.

Miss McCall was assisted at the hearing by her Employer, Licensed Trainer, Ms P Gerard. Miss McCall said that she understood the Rule and confirmed that she admitted the breach.

Rule 638(3)(b)(ii) provides:

A Rider shall not strike a horse with a whip in a manner or to an extent which is:

(i) unnecessary, or

(ii) excessive, or

(iii) improper

Without affecting the generality of Rule 638(3)(b), a rider may be penalised if their whip use is outside of the following guidelines:

Flat Races

Prior to the 100-metre mark in a race, official trial or jump out:

(i) The whip should not be used on more than 5 occasions.

(ii) The whip should not be used in consecutive strides.

(iii) The rider may at their discretion use the whip with a slapping motion down the shoulder, with the whip hand remaining on the reins.

In the final 100 metres, the whip may be used at the Rider’s discretion.

Using available race film footage Stipendiary Steward Mr Dooley demonstrated the breach. He identified Miss McCall’s mount; ISKANDER racing one off the fence outside the leader as the field entered the home straight. He said that between the straight entrance to the 100-metre mark Miss McCall struck her mount 8 times. He added that the strikes were not forceful.

In response Miss McCall said that she agreed that the number of strikes was 8, and knew that she had hit her mount too many times. She said that since her last breach of the Whip Rule, on 1 January 2021, she has been working extremely hard to improve her technique.

On her behalf, Ms Gerard said that she has been coaching Ms McCall to be more aggressive and “to get her horses going”. In relation to the breach, she said that most of the strikes were “encouragement” rather than forceful.

Decision:

As Ms McCall admitted the breach the Committee found the charge proved.

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Williamson said that Miss McCall has two previous breaches of the Rule, the most recent having occurred at the Hastings meeting on 1 January 2021 and resulted in a $650 fine. This being Miss McCall’s third breach in 3 months, the starting point is a $2000 fine and 2-day suspension.

He submitted that a $2000 fine is significant penalty for an Apprentice Rider. He added that the starting point for a 4th breach was a 5-day suspension, and that in this case a more appropriate sanction would be a 2 to 5-day suspension.

In response Miss McCall submitted that the $650 fine imposed as a result of her previous breach was $500 plus a $150 uplift because she won the race. She said that she could not afford to pay a $2000 fine, which would represent 4 weeks wages. She added that she receives no more than 20 rides per month and incurs considerable costs travelling to and from race meetings throughout the North Island. Ms Gerard also highlighted Miss McCall’s personal circumstances, particularly her limited earning capacity.

Miss McCall did not seek a deferment to any proposed suspension.

Reasons For Penalty:

The NZTR revised Penalty Guide for improper whip use came into force 9 December 2020. The Guide recommends a starting point of $2000 fine and 2-day suspension for a third breach.

The Committee considered all the evidence and submissions and took particular note of the number and frequency of strikes as well as the force used. In that regard we confirmed the number of strikes as 8 and noted that, for the most part, they were not overly forceful nor were they continuous.

Miss McCall is an Apprentice Rider who has limited riding opportunities; we were told somewhere in the vicinity of 20 or less rides per month. Miss McCall advised the Committee that she has limited financial means and would not be able to pay a $2000 fine in one lump sum. This was reiterated by Ms Gerard. She also said that it is not uncommon for Ms McCall to travel to meetings out of the region for one mount and as such travel costs often exceeded riding fees.

Although the Penalty Guide sets out recommended starting points there is limited discretion to impose penalties that are significantly less that the starting point for whip breaches, because whip breaches are quite rightly viewed as an animal welfare issue. In order to deviate from the Guide there would need to be compelling mitigating factors or exceptional circumstances.

In this case we accept that Ms McCall’s financial situation is a significant factor and for that reason we have determined a reduced fine and increased suspension is appropriate. In addition to consideration of Miss McCall’s personal circumstances we also consider the breach to be at the lower end of culpability insofar as whip offences are concerned. Notwithstanding, it must be said that it is only 10 days since her previous breach and her third within 3 months.  

Therefore, having taken all matters into account we impose a $500 fine and 4-day suspension.

Penalty:

Miss McCall's licence to ride in races is suspended from close of racing on 10 January 2021 until close of racing on 20 January 2021. In addition, we impose a $500 fine.

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