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12 Sep 2020
Auckland-Rc - R4

Auckland RC 12 September 2020 – R 4 – Chair, Mr G Jones

Created on 14 September 2020

Committee:
GJones (chair)
Name(s):
Mr C Studd – Class D Rider of ZED CASE
Informant
Mr M Williamson - Senior Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
A13381
Plea:
Admitted
Charge:
Fails to comply with directive
Evidence:

This charge arises from the running of Race 4, the Barfoot and Thompson Steeplechase. An Information was filed pursuant to Rule 802(1)(a) by the Informant, Mr Williamson, alleging that Class D rider Mr Studd failed to comply with a directive in that he did not retire ZED CASE from the race when failing to compete and becoming tailed off a distance.

Mr Studd said that he understood the Rule and confirmed he admitted the breach.

Rule 802 (1) provides a person commits a breach of these Rules who:

(a) acts in contravention of or fails to comply with any provision of these Rules or any Regulations made thereunder, or any policy, notice, direction, instruction, guideline, restriction, requirement or condition given, made or imposed under these Rules;

Mr Williamson said that riders participating in jumps races are regularly verbally briefed on their responsibilities and obligations and this includes the requirement to ‘pull up’ their mounts if circumstances require them to do so. He raised to the fact that Stewards raceday reports often refer to circumstances where a rider has pulled their mount up out of a race. Mr Williamson said that the basis for the charge is that Mr Studd failed to comply with the verbal directive he alluded to in that he did not retire his mount when he ought to have.

Mr Studd agreed that he was aware of the relevant directive.

Using the race films Mr Williamson demonstrated the breach. He identified ZED CASE (C Studd) racing at least 30 to 50 metres behind the second last runner as the field completed the first of two circuits of the track. He said that in the back straight as the field approach the foot of the hill near the 1400 metre mark ZED CASE became further detached from the body of the field and was some 200 metres tailed off as the horses commenced their run up the hill for the last time. From that point it was difficult to assess how far ZED CASE continued to tail off because it was completely out of film shot.

Mr Williamson said that ZED CASE should have been pulled up at this stage of the race, albeit it was still able to jump the fences safely; but was running slowly between fences. However, Mr Studd, he said, allowed his mount to race over the hill for a second time. He said, from both horse and rider, welfare perspectives, ZED CASE should have been retired from the race. He added that ZED CASE did not jump the last fence because it was directed past that fence by the Clerk of Course for safety reasons, due to a fallen runner being attended to.

Mr Williamson said post-race ZED CASE was checked by the raceday veterinarian and was not found to be suffering any ill-effects.

Mr Studd said that his mount became detached during the early running of the race because it was not coping well with the soft track. He said the track was expected to be heavy, but was upgraded after the first race and the better track was not to his horse's liking.

Mr Studd said that although ZED CASE was racing slowly it was fit, running well within itself and was not distressed. Notwithstanding, he now realises he should have retired his mount from the race. He added that the horse’s trainer had instructed him to go the full distance as it was being prepared to run in the forthcoming Great Northern Steeplechase in 4 weeks’ time, a distance some 2000 or more metres longer than today's race.

In response to Mr Studd’s comments, Mr Williamson advised the Committee that Stewards have raised concerns with ZED CASE’s trainer about the horse’s fitness to continue racing given that it has pulled out and failed to finish its previous 4 starts. 

Decision:

As Mr Studd admitted the breach the Committee found the charge proved.

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Williamson said that in assessing penalty he was not aware of any comparable breaches, in that Mr Studd failed to comply with a directive in circumstances where he should have retired his mount. He said that the horse pulled up uninjured and in good condition. He added had it pulled up injured it would not have been a good look for racing.

Mr Williamson submitted that a fine of no more than $300 would be an appropriate penalty.

In response to a query from the Committee concerning the merits of a suspension versus a fine, Mr Williamson said he did not believe the breach was deserving of a suspension.

Mr Studd submitted than he should be fined rather than suspended. He said that he did not put the horse or himself at risk. He reiterated that the horse was fit; it jumped well albeit slowly, and it pulled up in a healthy state. Nonetheless, he accepts he made a mistake in not pulling up after becoming so far detached from the rest of the field.

Reasons For Penalty:

The JCA Penalty Guide does not provide a starting point for breaches of this nature. Instead, penalties are fact dependant and it is up to the Committee of the day to weigh up all of the facts and submissions in arriving at a fitting penalty. In this regard the Committee has some discretion, however, that discretion is limited where the circumstances of the case have implications for animal welfare.

After considering submissions and noting the race films the Committee is satisfied this is not a case of Mr Studd failing to take all reasonable measures to enable his mount every opportunity to win the race, rather it is more a case of extremely poor judgement and decision making on his part. Mr Studd’s decision to persevere with his mount when clearly out of contention and with no hope of winning or placing is reprehensible. More so, when combined with the fact that his mount was clearly not sufficiently competitive to keep up with the rest of the field. This is reinforced by ZED CASE’S recent racing history where it was pulled up in its last 4 previous starts. Mr Studd ought to have known the horse’s limitations because he rode it at its previous start on 23 August 2020 at Te Aroha and pulled it up because it dropped away from the remainder of the field in the running.

The two key components of the charge are firstly, that Mr Studd failed to comply with a directive; and secondly, his failure to exercise sound judgement in not retiring his mount when he should have. From integrity, safety and welfare perspectives, it is imperative that industry participants and stakeholders comply with the directions of Stewards and other Officials. It is also of importance that equine welfare is at the forefront of thinking when critical decisions are made. Although inherent in the charge, these are aggravating factors that the Committee has taken into account.

Mitigating factors include Mr Studd’s admission of the breach the fact that the horse was not pushed hard and it suffered no ill-effects, because although out of contention it was apparently still racing within itself. It is also acknowledged that jumps riders have a limited racing season with reduced earning capacity. However, for these combined mitigating factors the Committee, in the exercise of its discretion has elected to afford Mr Studd no penalty reduction per se, but rather to impose a fine rather than a suspension.

Mr Williamson in his penalty submission advised that a suspension would not be appropriate in this case and he suggested a fine in the vicinity of $300. Mr Studd submitted that he should be fined rather than suspended. In weighing up the ‘pros and cons’ of a fine versus a suspension the Committee was mindful that combined with a 7-day deferment, there is only 4 jumps race meetings remaining on the calendar for this year. When taking that into account with the fact the jumps riders have limited raceday riding opportunities, and their season has already been truncated this year due to COVID-19, the Committee determined a fine to be appropriate in the circumstances. 

Penalty:

Mr Studd was fined $400.

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