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Auckland TC 25 October 2019 - R 5 - Chair, Mr BJ Scott

Created on 29 October 2019

BScott (chair)
Mr S Abernethy - Licensed Open Horseman
Mr S Mulcay - Senior Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
Careless Driving

Following the running of the IRT ID19 NOV 29-DEC 14 WWW.ID19.CO.NZ MBL PACE an Information was lodged by Senior Stipendiary Steward Mr S Mulcay against Driver Mr S Abernethy alleging that Mr Abernethy when driving BENJAMIN BUTTON drove carelessly when shifting ground inwards near the 1400 metres mark when not clear of NUN BETTOR (Driver A Poutama) which broke.

Rule 869(3)(b) provides : No horseman in any race shall drive carelessly.

Mr Abernethy was present at the Hearing and he confirmed to the Committee that he admitted the breach.

Mr Mulcay demonstrated the incident by use of the race films and he showed where at the start BENJAMIN BUTTON drew 3 and NUN BETTOR drew 2 behind the Mobile Barrier. Soon after the start Mr Abernethy drove his horse forward and Mr Poutama's horse was inside him. Mr Abernethy endeavoured to cross over in front of NUN BETTOR and in doing so he shifted in and made contact with the near front leg of that horse and as a result it went offstride and broke.

After the incident BENJAMIN BUTTON led and was rundown in the straight by NUN BETTOR which finished on from midfield and ran third.

Mr Mulcay said that it was an error of judgement by Mr Abernethy. He also said that the incident was in the mid-range of carelessness.

He did say however that the aggravating feature was that NUN BETTOR lost a forward position in a sprint race. The distance was 1600 metres.

Mr Abernethy said that he did drive a bit tight and he confirmed that he had made contact with the front legs of NUN BETTOR.

In answer to a question from the Committee he advised that Mr Poutama did not call out to him prior to the contact.


The breach is admitted and therefore the charge is proved.

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Mulcay said that Mr Abernethy had a clear record under this Rule and generally speaking he had an exemplary record under the Rules. He said by way of further mitigation that Mr Abernethy had admitted the breach and had been frank and open when dealing with the Stewards.

He did say however that the aggravating feature was that NUN BETTOR lost ground and over a sprint distance this has a greater impact.

He referred to the JCA Penalty Guide which provides starting point penalties of suspension of License for 10 drives or a $500.00 fine. He left it to the Committee to decide penalty.

Mr Abernethy said that he preferred a suspension.

The Committee advised Mr Abernethy that he was entitled to a deferment of his suspension and he asked that it be deferred for seven days.

The Committee also asked Mr Abernethy as to the number of drives he had had this Season and Mr Mulcay confirmed that it was 30.

Reasons For Penalty:

The Committee is assisted in assessing penalty by very clear race films which show not only the inwards movement by Mr Abernethy but also the actual contact with NUN BETTOR'S near front leg.

Mr Abernethy has admitted the breach but as far as this Committee is concerned that was inevitable given the very clear film evidence.

We are also told that Mr Abernethy has a clear record under this Rule and he is fortunate that the reset period after his last breach of this Rule expired in September .

In assessing penalty we have taken into account the mitigating factors put to us by Mr Mulcay although for the reasons set out above we do not believe the guilty plea to be a mitigating factor. We have also taken into account the aggravating factor of interference in a sprint race. We are also concerned that this was a clear incident of careless driving caused by a very experienced Driver.

We have looked at our JCA Guidelines and have also checked our JCA Penalty Schedule which (among other things) sets out other penalties given under this Rule.

We have resolved to deal with this by suspension of Mr Abernethy's License and we will grant him a deferment of his suspension as requested.

The starting point is a 10 drive suspension and we have given him a 2 drive credit for the mitigating factors. We have however increased that by 2 drives because of the aggravating factors. This brings us back to the 10 days starting point.

In assessing the number of driving days we have calculated that Mr Abernethy has approximately two to two and a half drives per meeting. Our view is that a 4 day suspension is appropriate.

When we were delivering our Decision Mr Mulcay asked us to reconsider because he was not looking for a 4 day suspension and was looking for 2 or possibly 3 days because Mr Abernethy over a season drives more than twice a meeting. He also said that Mr Abernethy did not realise that he could ask for a deferment up to 7 days and in this instance he only required a 6 day deferment.

Mr Abernethy told us that he had a number of drives coming up and that the Trainers he drives for are only now getting their horses back into racing after the Winter.

We pointed out to both parties that they need to put all matters before us that they want us to consider because we can only deal with what is put to us.

We reconsidered the matters put to us and resolved that the suspension should be one of 3 days and we will grant Mr Abernethy a 6 day deferment of suspension.


This Committee orders that Mr Abernethy's Drivers License be suspended from the conclusion of racing on the 31st of October 2019 up to the conclusion of racing on the 8th of November 2019. That is 3 days being Auckland on the 1st of November and Cambridge Harness on the 5th and the 8th of November.

The deferment of suspension for 6 days to the conclusion of racing at the Manawatu Harness Meeting on the 31st of October 2019 is granted.

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