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Auckland RC 5 March 2016 - R 9 - Chair, Mr A Dooley

Created on 07 March 2016

ADooley (chair)
Mr M Coleman - Rider of THE HASSLER
Mr G Cooksley - Rider of SPLENDIDO
Ms S Spratt - Rider of WHAT'S THE STORY
Mr A Coles - Stipendiary Steward
Mr J Oatham - Senior Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
Careless Riding

Following the running of race 9, BMW NZ Derby Group 1, an Information was filed pursuant to Rule 638(1)(d). The Informant, Mr Oatham, alleged that near the 1800 metres Mr Coleman permitted his mount THE HASSLER to shift inwards when not clear of WHAT’S THE STORY which was crowded inwards into the line of SPLENDIDO which was badly checked, with several other runners also being badly affected.

Mr Coleman acknowledged that he understood 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.

Submission For Decision:

Mr Oatham told the Committee he would be calling 3 witnesses namely Stipendiary Steward Mr Coles, and riders Mr Cooksley and Ms Spratt.

The following are the salient points of the hearing.

Mr Coles demonstrated the incident by using the available video films. He identified that near the 1800 metres Mr Coleman permitted his mount to shift in when only ¾ of a length clear of Ms Spratt. He said in doing so Ms Spratt’s mount was crowded inwards into the running line of Mr Cooksley’s mount who was severely checked. He said as a consequence of this several other horses that were racing behind Mr Cooksley were badly hampered.

Mr Coleman questioned Mr Coles as to whether he thought Ms Spratt had turned her horse's head out leading up to the incident because things were getting a “little tight”. Mr Coles acknowledged that leading up to the incident Ms Spratt’s mount did race ungenerously. However, he said when the interference occurred at the 1,800 metres Ms Spratt’s mount was racing in a tractable manner.

Mr Cooksley was then called as a witness. He stated that he was racing ½ a length behind Ms Spratt adjacent to the running rail when he received pressure from his outside. He said this resulted in him going into the fence.

Mr Coleman asked Mr Cooksley if the interference was abrupt, he replied in the affirmative.

Ms Spratt was then called as the next witness. She said that prior to the incident her mount was pulling a little bit and running away from Mr Coleman’s mount. She said when the interference occurred Mr Coleman had shifted inwards into her running line which forced her into Mr Cooksley on the rails. She said Mr Coleman was about ½ to 1 length clear of her and she was fully aware that Mr Cooksley was racing on her inside at that point.

Mr Coleman had no question of Ms Spratt.

Mr Coleman stated that he did not agree that he permitted his mount to shift in, he believed the horse got in on its own accord. He said he had no intention of being closer than 3 wide as he was following Mr Riddell. He advised the Committee that his mount was having its first start in a Norton bit and it was slow to react and in his opinion the horse reacted poorly. He said he only moved in ½ a horse width and his mount changed ground for 2 strides.

Mr Oatham in summing up stated that it was clear that Ms Spratt was racing in a 2 wide position and Mr Coleman was racing in a lose 3 and ½ to 4 wide position before shifting in. He said the Stewards can’t see at any point where Mr Coleman has straightened his mount prior to the interference occurring. He acknowledged that Mr Coleman did make an attempt to straighten his mount but it was too late because there was insufficient room for 2 runners on his inside. He said Ms Spratt always had her horse's head turned out and Ms Spratt was unable to relieve the pressure she received from Mr Coleman. He concluded by saying the video films supported the evidence of all 3 witnesses.

Mr Coleman in summing up said that he made every effort to straighten his mount. He stated that he can’t correct his mount until it has done something wrong. He added the horse shifted in on its own accord and there was no intent on his part.

Reasons For Decision:

The Committee carefully considered all the evidence and submissions as presented. Having reviewed the video films several times we established that passing the 2,000 metres Ms Spratt’s mount was racing ungenerously with its head turned outwards and Mr Coleman was racing in a 4 wide position. Shortly after that point Mr Coleman allowed his mount to shift in for 2 strides when only ½ a length clear of Ms Spratt. This resulted in Ms Spratt’s mount being crowded inwards into the rightful running line of Mr Cooksley who was racing ½ a length behind Ms Spratt. This resulted in Mr Cooksley’s mount being severely checked near the 1,800 metres. The consequences of this were extensive with 7 horses that were racing behind Mr Cooksley having to be checked to varying degrees. We note the worst affected horse apart from SPLENDIDO was GOBSTOPPER.

The evidence presented by Mr Oatham, Mr Coles and Mr Cooksley and Ms Spratt was compelling and supported by the video footage.

We accept there was no intent on Mr Coleman’s part and he did attempt to correct his mount but it was too late.


For the reasons detailed above we find the charge against Mr Coleman proved.

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Oatham produced Mr Coleman’s record which showed 3 previous breaches under this Rule in the last 12 months. The most recent being in August 2015 which incurred a 3 day suspension and in addition a $750 fine. He said Mr Coleman’s record was average and assessed the level of carelessness as mid- range with the consequences being high range given the large number of horses affected. He noted that SPLENDIDO nearly fell as a result of the interference. He said there was slight mitigation in the racing manners of Ms Spratt’s mount. He highlighted the incident occurred in a NZ Derby worth $750,000 and reiterated a number of horses had their chances affected. He submitted a suspension in the 10 to 12 day range would be appropriate.

Mr Coleman requested a deferment to his proposed suspension because he had engagements up to and including 12 March. He recognised that it was inevitable he would miss the ride on MIME in the NZ Oaks on 19 March.

The Committee asked Mr Oatham to produce Mr Coleman’s recent riding history. This showed that Mr Coleman had ridden throughout the North Island in the last 3 months and this included some industry days in the Central Region. Mr Oatham added that Mr Coleman was entitled to have all North Island meetings included in his penalty.

Mr Coleman also asked the Committee to take into account that his last breach of this rule occurred in August 2015.

When tested by the Committee Mr Coleman was forthright in that he had no intention of riding in the South Island in the near future and accordingly theses dates would not be included in his proposed penalty.

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. We consider Mr Coleman’s has good record for a busy rider and note that it was 7 months ago when he last breached this rule. We accept that leading up to the incident Ms Spratt’s mount was racing ungenerously which was a slight mitigating fact. We assessed Mr Coleman's carelessness to be low to mid – range because he permitted his mount to shift in for only 2 strides. However, this has to be balanced against the consequences which we consider to be rather significant and clearly high range. This was based on the large numbers of horses that had their chances affected to varying degrees which undoubtedly warrants a substantial uplift in penalty given the status of the race (Group 1) and stakes payable ($750,000).

The Committee also considered penalties handed out for similar breaches and are mindful of the fact that breaches of similar culpability should, as a general rule attract broadly similar penalties. In this regard we have benchmarked our decision against Ms K Myers from the NZ Derby in 2014, 13 days which we believe provides a useful stating point. In that charge it was Ms Myers 6th breach of the rule and the level of carelessness was assessed as high end when she caused severe interference to 5 horses near the 350 metres.

The Committee has also factored into our decision the requirements of Rule 920 (2), which provides that:

(2) On finding a breach proved the Judicial Committee may impose any penalty provided by these Rules. In imposing a penalty provided in these Rules the Judicial Committee may 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;


(d) the need to maintain integrity and public confidence in racing.

The Committee was satisfied that Mr Coleman has a recent history of riding all over the North Island including several industry days in the Central Region.

After taking into account all of the above the Committee considered an appropriate penalty was 11 days. However, a 1 day reduction was fixed after we had regard for the financial impact of Mr Coleman missing a Premier race day at Wellington on 19 March which we note has total prizemoney of $690,000.


We grant Mr Coleman’s request to seek a deferment to his suspension as per Rule 1106(2).

Accordingly, Mr Coleman had his license to ride in races suspended for a period to commence after racing on 12 March and conclude after racing on 31March 2016 (10 North Island days).

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