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Auckland RC 5 November 2019 - R 7 - Chair, Mr A Dooley

Created on 06 November 2019

Rules:
638(3)(b)(ii)
Committee:
ADooley (chair)
ASmith
Name(s):
Mr L Innes - Class A Rider
Mr B Jones - Stipendiary Steward
Informant
Mr J Oatham - Chief Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
A11540
Plea:
Admitted
Charge:
Excessive use of the whip
Evidence:

Following the running of race 7, OMF Stakes, an Information was filed pursuant to Rule 638 (3)(b)(ii). The Informant, Mr Oatham, alleged that Mr Innes used the whip excessively prior to the 100 metres when riding FISCAL FANTASY.

Mr Innes 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: excessive.

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

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.

Mr Jones demonstrated the incident using the available video footage. He identified that Mr Innes used the whip on 9 occasions prior to the 100 metres. They consisted of 3 consecutive strikes followed by a break then another 6 consecutive strikes. He added that the Guidelines state that prior to the 100 metres the whip should not be used on more than 5 occasions and it should not be used in consecutive strides.

Mr Innes accepted Mr Jones' interpretation of the video footage. He said that his mount was racing in very tight quarters and was cramped for room passing the 200 metres. He said that if he wasn’t racing in such tight quarters he would not have used the whip as often as he did. In explanation he said that he asked his mount for an extra effort to get through the gap on the rails. He identified that his mount raced in restricted room when ROGER THAT shifted inwards under pressure near the 150 metres. Mr Innes emphasised that had this incident not occurred he would not have used the whip in consecutive strides.

Decision:

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

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Oatham told the Committee that the new Whip Guidelines had been effective since 7 October 2019. He said Mr Innes had 1 previous breach of this Rule on 19 October at Ashburton where the Committee showed some leniency and imposed a $600 fine. He said a lot of riders are still coming to grips with the new Whip Guidelines. He referred to the new JCA Penalty Guidelines and said that either consecutive or excessive number of strikes specifies a 6 day suspension. However, he submitted that the Committee needs to factor in the tightening that occurred which resulted in FISCAL FANTASY racing in tight quarters and some allowance in penalty could be considered. In conclusion Mr Oatham said the breach occurred in a black type race and Mr Innes’ mount won the race.

Mr Innes submitted that if he was suspended he would miss further Group 1 rides. He stated that he starts a careless riding suspension after racing on 6 November 2019. He believed it would be unfair to be suspended as the new Guidelines have only just come into effect. He added that the Guidelines are only that.

In response to a question from Mr Oatham, Mr Innes said he would prefer a large fine over a suspension.

Reasons For Penalty:

The Committee carefully considered all the evidence and submissions presented.

In our deliberations we have taken some guidance from the RIU v D Hirini excessive use of the whip appeal - decision dated 9 October 2019.

[15] As the Committee observed the Guidelines are only that. They are designed to assist riders and others what is or is not “acceptable. It has to be kept in mind;

(a) they only say a rider MAY be penalised if the use is outside the guide – they do not say MUST, and they cannot do so unless they are a RULE, which must prevail

(b) they specifically say that they do not affect the general application of Rule 638(3)(b)

(c) they do not constitute the charge as that could only be, and was pursuant to the Rule but naturally assistance may be gained from the Guide as to what is “excessive”.

We were conversant with the penalty Mr Innes incurred on 19 October at Ashburton.

The Committee reviewed the video footage of the final straight. We adopted the view that had ROGER THAT not shifted in at the 150 metres and made contact with FISCAL FANTASY then Mr Innes would not have used his whip for 6 consecutive strides. It was clear on the video footage that ROGER THAT shifted in at least 2 horse widths which placed FISCAL FANATSY in restricted room adjacent to the rail before Mr Waddell corrected ROGER THAT’s inward movement. It is significant that as soon as the inward pressure was released Mr Innes stopped using the whip. We observed that the whip was not applied in a forceful manner. In conclusion we are fully satisfied that it is appropriate to exercise discretion given the circumstances outlined in this particular case.

The JCA Penalty Guidelines effective 7 October 2019 recommends where the breach occurs in a Group or Feature race and the number of strikes is 4 or more than the permitted 5 the starting point is a 6 day suspension plus a fine at the Committee’s discretion up to the rider’s percentage of prize money (where applicable). If less than this but still more than 5 then a fine appropriate to the status of the race is to be the starting point.

We note that this breach occurred in a Group 3 race with stakes payable of $70,000.

Committees are vested with considerable discretion to take into account a wide range of relevant factors. Also, the Whip Guidelines do enable Committees to give due consideration to any exceptional circumstances. We consider to impose a 6 day suspension and a fine as per the JCA Penalty Guidelines would be disproportionate to this particular breach. We base this on the fact that had Mr Innes used the whip on 6, 7 or 8 occasions and not 9 then the recommended starting point is a fine based on the status of the race.

There were several aggravating factors in this breach that warrant an uplift in penalty. Mr Innes breached both the excessive use of the whip and consecutive strikes Whip Guidelines, this was his 2nd breach under this Rule within 3 weeks and the breach occurred in a Group 3 with stakes payable of $70,000.

There was no discount applied for Mr Innes’ admission of the breach.

After weighing up all the circumstances of this particular breach we determined that an appropriate penalty was a $1,500 fine.

The penalty imposed on Mr Innes today should not be seen as a precedent because Judicial Committees must take into account all the circumstances of each case presented to them.

Penalty:

Accordingly, Mr Innes was fined $1,500.

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