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20 Feb 2021
Auckland-Rc - R8

Auckland RC 20 February 2021 – R 8 – Chair, Mr G Jones

Created on 24 February 2021

GJones (chair)
Mr T Harris - Rider of SOUND
Mr A Coles - Stipendiary Steward
Mr J Oatham - Chief Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
Excessive use of whip

This charge arises from the running of Race 8, the Wallen Concreting Avondale Cup (Group 2). An Information was filed pursuant to Rule 638 (3)(b)(ii) by the Informant, Mr Oatham, alleging that Mr Harris used his whip excessively when riding SOUND prior to the 100 metres.

Mr Harris said that he understood the Rule and confirmed he 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:

(iv) unnecessary, or

(v) excessive, or

(vi) 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:

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

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

(vi) The rider may at their discretion use the whip with a slapping motion down the shoulder, with the 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 Coles demonstrated the breach. He identified SOUND (T Harris) racing from the straight entrance to the finish, with an emphasis on Mr Harris’ use of his whip up to the 100-metre mark. Mr Coles pointed out that Mr Harris struck his mount 10 times prior to the 100 metres. SOUND finished in second place.

In response Mr Harris said that he agreed with the Stewards' interpretation of the breach and had nothing further to add. 


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

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Oatham said that this is Mr Harris’ fourth breach of the Whip Rule in the past 12 months, with the first breach having occurred on 19 September 20 ($450 fine); the second on 3 October 2020 ($600 fine) and the third at the Waikato RC on 25 November 2020 resulting in a 6-day suspension. Mr Oatham submitted that in a Group Race where the number of strikes is 9 or more the penalty starting point is 6 days suspension and a fine. He added that although in this case the number of strikes is 10, Mr Harris’ whip use was “not extravagant and the strikes were well broken up”.

Mr Harris made no submissions as the penalty but sought an indication as to penalty prior to seeking a deferment. As the Committee had not deliberated regarding the penalty to be imposed, we could not provide him with a definitive response, but we left open the question of deferment. 

Reasons For Penalty:

The Penalty Guide starting point for a 4th breach of this Rule is a 5-day suspension, except where the breach occurs in a Group Race and the number of strikes is 9 or more, the starting point increases to a 6-day suspension and fine. This is inclusive of admission of the breach and the riders' record (in this case 4th breach). This was adopted as the starting point. To deviate from the 6-day suspension and fine starting point, compelling mitigating circumstances would need to be raised for consideration. In this case no special circumstances were raised and indeed there are no such circumstances.

The Committee considered all the evidence and submissions and took note of the number and frequency of strikes as well as the force used. In that regard the number of strikes was confirmed as being 10 and it was noted that they were not forceful nor were they continuous. In assessing the amount we fine Mr Harris, we considered that SOUND finished second and received stakemoney of $17,000 of which he is due a percentage.

Taking all matters into account a 6 (national day) suspension plus a $500 fine is imposed. Having arrived at this decision we then turned our mind to the question of deferment. We were advised that Mr Harris sought to defer any proposed suspension until after racing on 27 February 2021.


Mr Harris’ request for deferment is granted, and his licence is suspended from after racing on 27 February 2021 until after racing on 12 March 2021 (6 national days) and fined $500.

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