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Auckland TC 26 February 2021 – R 4 – Chair, Mr G Jones

Created on 02 March 2021

Rules:
869(3)(b)
Committee:
GJones (chair)
ASmith
Name(s):
Open Driver Mr M Jones - Driver of PLUTONIUM LADY
Informant
Mr N Ydgren –Chief Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
A12985
Plea:
Admitted
Charge:
Careless Driving
Evidence:

Following the running of Race 4, the Charles Roberts (N.I.S.B.A) Stakes (Listed) Mobile Pace 2200m, an Information was filed by Chief Stipendiary Steward Mr Ydgren alleging Open Driver Mr M Jones, breached Rule 869 (3)(b) in that he drove carelessly over the latter stages of the home straight by allowing his mare to shift inwards under pressure which resulted in interference to MIMI E COCO (B Butcher) and NEED YOU NOW (J Dunn).

Mr Jones endorsed the Information ‘I do admit the breach of the rule’. At the commencement of the hearing, he confirmed his plea and that he understood the Rule and the nature of the charge.

Rule 869 (3)(b) provides:

No driver in any race shall drive carelessly.

Using available video footage Mr Ydgren identified the horses involved in the incident namely, PLUTONIUM LADY (M Jones), MIMI E COCO (B Butcher) and NEED YOU NOW (J Dunn). He said that in the run up the home straight MIMI E COCO was leading and had run out slightly early in the run home. NEED YOU NOW was commencing a run on the marker line and PLUTONIUM LADY, who had been laying in for most of the race was mounting a challenge for the lead slightly back and on the outer of MIMI E COCO. Mr Ydgren said that passing the 50-metre mark PLUTONIUM LADY gained ascendency over MIMI E COCO and commenced to further lay in whilst under pressure, this he said, put pressure on that horse, who in turn placed NEED YOU NOW in restricted room. Both MIMI E COCO and NEED YOU NOW were checked close to the finish line. PLUTONIUM LADY, MIMI E COCO and NEED YOU NOW finished first, second and third, respectively.

In explanation Mr Jones freely acknowledged that he shifted in but said that early in the home straight MIMI E COCO had forced his horse wider on the track. He said that the inward shift by his horse was minimal and that NEED YOU NOW had sufficient room on the marker line. He added that the interference occurred when his sulky wheel got inside the sulky wheel of MIMI E COCO.

Decision:

Pursuant to Rule 1111(1)(d) as Mr Jones admitted the breach the Committee found the charge proved.

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Ydgren submitted that Mr Jones’ driving record was particularly good and he has no recent breaches of any Rule. He said that his good record should be balanced against the fact that Mr Jones does not drive regularly, albeit he has had 60 drives this current season.

Mr Ydgren placed the breach in the low to mid-range and in such in circumstances he said the RIU policy is to seek a suspension where a driver shifts ground and causes interference. He said that although the breach occurred in a Listed Race, it carried a stake of only $17,600 and no penalty uplift is sought. He identified the Penalty Guide starting points and suggested that a 5-day suspension would be appropriate.

In his submission Mr Jones sought a 7-day deferment to any proposed suspension. He said his carelessness was low end and he confirmed that he generally has 2 to 3 drives per meeting although that number could vary, due to the availability of his regular stable driver. He also asked the Committee to consider that he admitted the breach and that the interference was “minimal”.

Reasons For Penalty:

The JCA Penalty Guide provides a starting point of a 10-drive suspension or a $500 fine for careless driving. The Committee has noted that similar recent breaches have incurred penalties ranging from fines between $200 to $500 and limited number of 2 to 5-day suspensions. Clearly each case is different depending on the facts and circumstances of each driver.

After considering the submissions of both the Informant and Respondent; noting the race film and the resultant impact on the two affected runners, the Committee assessed the breach to be mid-range. We particularly noted that the chances of two runners interfered with varied. Although the interference occurred close to the line it was noteworthy that NEED YOU NOW, who placed 3rd, lost 2nd place by a very narrow margin. We have considered this as part of our decision making.

This race carried a stake of $17,600 and is a Listed Race. However, it does not meet the $40,000, ‘major race’ threshold and therefore we have not unduly penalised Mr Jones for this when assessing penalty. We have afforded Mr Jones credit for his good record and admission of the breach.

In the final result, after weighing up the relevant factors, we determined a 5-day suspension to be an appropriate penalty in the circumstances of this case.

Penalty:

As part of his penalty submissions Mr Jones sought a 7-day deferment to any proposed suspension and this was granted by the Judicial Committee. However, due to unforeseen circumstances an out of session request was made by Mr Jones to withdraw his request for deferral and commence his suspension immediately due to implications arising from the Auckland COVID 19 Level 3 lockdown. Whilst in a general sense a race night decision is final, subject to appeal provisions, the Judicial Committee deemed Mr Jones’ request to be reasonable and in the interests of natural justice and fairness granted his request.

Stipendiary Stewards had no objection to Mr Jones’ request to amend his suspension dates given the exceptional circumstances.

Accordingly, Mr Jones’ licence to drive in races is suspended for 5 days, commencing after racing on 27 February 2021 until after racing on 12 March 2021.

Note: Mr Jones drove at Ashburton TC on 27 February 2021. The race meeting at Waikouaiti TC on 28 February was not included in the penalty as the declaration of Drivers had closed. 

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