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Auckland RC 28 February 2015 - R 9 (heard on 7 March 2015 at Ellerslie)



638(1)(d)

RACEDAY JUDICIAL COMMITTEE DECISION

Adjourned Hearing from 28 February until 7 March 2015. DENIED

Informant: Mr R Neal- Co Chief Stipendiary Steward

Respondent: Mr L Innes - Licensed Rider

Information No: A4370

Meeting: Auckland RC

Date: 28 February 2015

Venue: Ellerslie

Rule No: 638(1) (d)

Race: 9

Judicial Committee: A Dooley, Chairman - G Jones, Committee Member

Plea: Denied

Person's Present: Mr J Oatham – Senior Stipendiary Steward

Mr R Jones – Rider of SEALED BY A DANCE

Charge

Careless Riding

Evidence

Following the running of race 9, TV3 New Zealand Derby Group 1, an Information was filed pursuant to Rule 638(1)(d). The Informant, Mr Neal, alleged that Mr Innes the rider of VAVASOUR allowed his mount to shift inwards passing the 150 metres checking SEALED BY A DANCE (R Jones).

Mr Innes acknowledged that he understood the nature of the charge, the Rule and confirmed that he denied the breach.

Rule 638(1) (d) provides: A Rider shall not ride a horse in a manner which the Judicial Committee considers to be careless.

Submissions For Decision

Mr Neal told the Committee he would be calling Mr Jones as a witness.

Mr Jones submitted that he had come up in behind the leaders and when Mr Innes’ mount was tiring he was able to obtain a run on VAVASOUR’S inside. Mr Jones said that VAVASOUR rolled in when under pressure and the filly lay in on him for 3 or 4 strides. He noted that VAVASOUR carried SEALED BY A DANCE into the running rail. Mr Jones believed SEALED BY A DANCE could have run 3rd or 4th as his mount was running on strongly before it was checked. Finally Mr Jones advised Mr Neal that he had called out to Mr Innes to let him know he was on his inside.

Under cross examination Mr Innes submitted that he did react when Mr Jones called out to him. Mr Innes said he done his best to get VAVASOUR off SEALED BY A DANCE.

Mr Oatham demonstrated the alleged incident using available video footage. He said that in the run down the home straight Mr Innes allowed his mount to roll out under pressure and then shift inward onto Mr Jones’ mount who he said was entitled to take the inside gap. Mr Oatham acknowledged Mr Innes did take some corrective action but it was too little too late. He said ultimately Mr Innes should have maintained a straight line.

Mr Oatham using the side on film identified that once SEALED BY A DANCE was able to clear VAVASOUR he continued to make ground on the inside. He said Mr Innes was not sufficiently clear of Mr Jones and maybe a bare length at best.

Mr Innes had no questions of Mr Oatham in cross examination.

Mr Innes asked Mr Neal if the Stewards had ordered VAVASOUR for a post - race veterinary check. Mr Innes advised the Committee that VAVASOUR was the 3rd favourite and a last start winner. Mr Innes reiterated that he wanted VAVASOUR checked out because “he had no horse at the 600 metres”. He noted that in the final straight VAVASOUR has rolled out then rolled back in. Mr Innes said that he did everything in his power to pull his mount off SEALED BY A DANCE when Mr Jones called out to him.

In response Mr Neal stated that if Mr Innes was suggesting VAVASOUR was out on its feet at the 600 metres and in a dilapidated condition why did Mr Innes continue to ride his mount forward. Mr Neal said the Stewards do not accept that VAVASOUR was in any such condition and Mr Innes was still riding his horse out up the straight. He added the Committee has to consider whether Mr Innes was still in fact riding his horse out with vigour.

In response Mr Innes advised it was a $750,000 race and “why wouldn’t he ride his mount out”.

Reasons For Decision

The Committee carefully considered all the evidence and submissions as presented. Having reviewed the available video films we established that Mr Innes allowed his mount to shift in near the 150 metres from a 3 wide position to be in a 1 off position. In doing so he was approximately ¾ of a length clear of SEALED BY A DANCE which was tightened for racing room and the 2 horses bumped.

Decision

The Committee note that “interference” is defined as: a horse crossing another horse without being at least its own length and one other clear length in front of such other horse at the time of crossing.

Because Mr Innes was not the required distance clear of Mr Jones when moving in, we find the charge proved.

Having upheld the charge the Committee adjourned until prior to race 1 on 7 March for penalty submissions pending the result of a Veterinary examination on VAVASOUR. This is on the basis that the result may be a mitigating factor in assessing penalty.

Submissions For Penalty

At the commencement of the adjourned hearing Mr Innes informed the Committee that the potential Veterinary issues were no longer relevant in so far as his penalty submissions are concerned. He advised that he has since spoken to Mr Williams the trainer of VAVASOUR who found nothing wrong with his horse post - race. Mr Williams was of the opinion that Mr Innes went too fast in the lead which lead to VAVASOUR tiring.

Mr Neal produced Mr Innes’ record which showed 2 previous breaches under this Rule in the last 12 months, the most recent being on 24 April 2014 at Avondale which attracted a 5 day suspension. He said this was a very good record and the breach was below mid – range. He said the Stewards concede that in races such as the Derby horses do get tired near the end of the race and that he would leave it up to the Committee to determine penalty. He added that the status of the race, stakes payable and the consequences are also relevant.

Mr Innes submitted that he is predominately a North Island rider and that his riding record is better than good – excellent noting he has only 1 or 2 breaches of this rule from over his last 650 rides.

Mr Innes said that Mr Jones came from a tight position when going for a gap on his inside and that he took immediate corrective action when Mr Jones called out to him. He asked the Committee to note that although his mount touched SEALED BY A DANCE Mr Jones never stopped riding his mount out.

Referring to the aerial film which was not available on 28 February Mr Innes reinforced his submission that when Mr Jones took the gap on his inside the film showed the gap was closing.

Mr Neal responded by submitting Mr Innes was not the required distance clear when shifting in.

Mr Innes advised that he had no upcoming engagements and any proposed suspension could start immediately. He added that had the penalty been imposed on race day any proposed suspension would take effect immediately after racing today. On that basis he asked the Committee to take this into account when determining penalty race dates. He further added that it was inevitable that any suspension would result in him missing the forthcoming Wellington Premier where there was upwards of $765,000 in stakes on offer. In this regard he asked the Committee to consider whether the pending suspension arising from an earlier charge could be served concurrently as he suggested they do in Australia.

In response Mr Neal submitted that the circumstances relating to Mr Innes’ 2 charges arose from unusual circumstances and Stewards did not impose any proposed suspension taking affect immediately but there was an objection to both proposed suspension being served concurrently.

Mr Innes finally submitted that in his view a premier day at Wellington would equate to 4 industry days.

Reasons For Penalty

The Committee carefully considered all the evidence and submissions presented. We have adopted 5 riding days as the starting point in considering the term of suspension for this careless riding charge. In assessing penalty the Committee accepts that VAVASOUR did run in when tiring and under pressure. Mr Innes did take corrective action when Mr Jones called out but the action taken was too late. Together with Mr Innes’ good record we consider these to be mitigating factors. In this case we do not give Mr Innes credit for an admission of the breach but we have not penalised him for defending the charge.

The Committee has factored into our decision the requirements of Rule 920 (2) which provides that on finding a breach proved the Judicial Committee may impose any penalty provided by these Rules. In imposing a penalty the Judicial Committee have regard to such matters as it considers appropriate including:

(a) the status of the Race;
(b) the stake payable in respect of the Race;
(c) any consequential effects upon any person or horse as a result of the breach of the Rule;
and/or
(d) the need to maintain integrity and public confidence in racing.

Accordingly, the Committee has noted that this breach occurred in a Group 1 race worth $750,000. A consequence of this breach is that SEALED BY A DANCE was checked and had its momentum impeded for about 3 strides. Although Mr Jones submitted that the interference may have cost his mount 3rd or 4th placing our assessment of the video footage does not necessarily support that. We therefore place limited weight on this factor. We assess the level of careless in the low to mid – range.

The Committee considers Mr Innes to be predominately a North Island rider who rides at Christchurch in August and November at their premier meetings. Mr Innes certainly has no history of riding in the South Island on industry days. When tested by the Committee Mr Innes acknowledged that he had no intention of riding at the upcoming South Island meetings that were read aloud to him.

This is the second charge of careless riding filed against Mr Innes following the running of the TV3 NZ Derby. The first charge was admitted and this Committee imposed a penalty of 6 days suspension. In his submissions in relation to this breach Mr Innes asked the Committee to consider if any suspension was to be imposed for this charge they be served concurrently. Although the Committee considered this request we are of the view that is inappropriate for these breaches to be served concurrently.

The Committee did factor into our penalty that Mr Innes will miss a premier day at Wellington. Although we note Mr Innes elected not to seek a deferment to his proposed suspension which would allow to ride at Wellington.

After taking into account all the above factors the Committee considers an appropriate penalty is a 6 day suspension.

Penalty

The Committee notes that this is Mr Innes’ second charge incurred in the race.

Accordingly, Mr Innes had his license to ride in races suspended for a period to commence after racing on 18 March and conclude after racing on 27 March 2015 (6 North Island days).

The penalty did not include any South Island meetings as Mr Innes confirmed that he did not intend riding there in the near future.

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