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08 Mar 2019
Auckland-Tc - R8

Auckland TC 8 March 2019 – R 7 - Chair, Mr G Jones

Created on 15 March 2019

Committee:
GJones (chair)
ADooley
Name(s):
Ms N C Rasmussen - Licensed Open Driver
Informant
Mr N Ydgren - Chief Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
A10729
Plea:
Denied
Charge:
Contravention of the Use of Whip Regulations
Evidence:

This charge arises from the running of race 7, the 2019 Woodlands Stud Northern Derby (Mobile Pace) 2700m, (Group 1). Chief Stipendiary Steward Mr Ydgren filed an information alleging Licensed Open Horsewoman; Ms N Rasmussen breached Rule 869(2) in that she used her whip driving ULTIMATE SNIPER in breach of the whip regulations inside the final 400 metres.

Rule 869(2)(a) provides that:

(2) No horseman/horsewoman shall during any race:-

(a) Use his/ her whip in an unnecessary, excessive or improper manner.

The Use of the Whip Guidelines provides that:

-The whip shall not be used more than 10 times in the last 400m of a race, this is inclusive of “backhanders” and the use applies to the horse, harness and/or sulky.

-At no stage of a race will Stewards permit continuous use of the whip. Horseman must show distinct pauses between the whip being used.

Subsection (d) is also of relevance to this charge in that it provides that:

(d) No horseman / horsewoman shall apply the whip to a runner which is out of contention for either stake or dividend bearing place or on any horse which is not responding or unable to hold its position in the race. 

Submission For Decision:

Ms Rasmussen signed and endorsed the Information “I do not admit the breach” and elected to be present at the hearing.

At the commencement of the hearing Ms Rasmussen acknowledged that she denied the breach and that she understood the nature of the whip rule and regulations. She did not require the rule to be read or further explained to her.

The Committee outlined the proposed procedure for the defended hearing. At this juncture Mr Ydgren advised that the hearing could be truncated as there was only one issue in dispute. He said Stewards allege that Ms Rasmussen used her whip on 11 occasions; this being one more than permitted by the Use of Whip Guidelines, and Ms Rasmussen contends that she used her whip on 10 occasions. He said she disputes one strike said to have occurred after the 50 metre mark. Ms Rasmussen confirmed this.

Mr Ydgren opened the case for the Informant by referring the race film coverage of the final 400 metres. He pointed out that ULTIMATE SNIPER (Ms Rasmussen) led the field into the home straight. He said that in the final straight to the winning post Ms Rasmussen used her whip 11 times. Mr Ydgren repeated the film coverage 3 times reinforcing the Stewards' view that the number of strikes was 11 inclusive of the strike disputed by Ms Rasmussen. There were 4 angles available which were synchronised. Mr Ydgren relied solely on the top left side on view to establish his case.

Ms Rasmussen had no questions of Mr Ydgren in cross examination.

In her evidence Ms Rasmussen stated that the 1 strike which she disputed was in her view no more that a “flick with the rein” and was “not an actual strike”. She confirmed that she used her whip 10 times and asked the Committee to look closely at her whip action for those 10 strikes compared to the one in question. Using both the top left (side on) and bottom left (back on) view of the incident she stated it was more of a flick, than a use of her whip. She added that she has been race driving in Australia for the past 3 months and under Australian rules she is required to keep both hands on the reins. She said that a close look at the race film shows that during the disputed strike her reins go up “like a wave”. In particular she pointed out that the rear view camera footage clearly showed the 10 strikes, but the one in dispute was not clearly visible.

In summing up Mr Ydgren submitted the disputed strike can be seen in the side on camera footage. He accepted her whip action for this strike may have been slightly different than some of the other 10 strikes.

In summing up Ms Rasmussen said the films clearly shows 10 strikes and that back on view confirms her contention that the disputed strike is a “wave of the reins” as opposed to a use of the whip. 

Reasons For Decision:

The Committee reviewed the race films several times. Firstly we counted and confirmed at least 10 strikes and then turned our attention to the disputed strike. This was just past the 50 metre mark. In our analysis we looked at 4 camera angles including front, rear and the two side on views. We were able to review the footage in slow motion and found that the synchronised side on and back straight views were most helpful. The side view clearly showed that the reins and whip go up and the whip goes down. Similarly the other view shows Ms Rasmussen’s arm moving up and down in unison with her whip and reins. The motion is not forceful, but nevertheless in our view it constitutes a striking motion. We accept that the motion is slightly different to some of the other strikes. On that basis when the disputed strike is added to the 10 already agreed strikes, the combined total of 11 is outside the number of strikes permitted by the Use of Whip Regulations.

Accordingly given our interpretation of the disputed strike the Committee finds the charge proved.

Decision:

The Committee found the charge proved.

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Ydgren said that Ms Rasmussen does not have a very good driving record under this rule. He said that within her last 40 drives she has breached the whip rule in New Zealand on 3 previous occasions. They fall within the 6 month (and / or) 200 drive reset period and include:

- 29/10/18 $300 fine
- 02/11/18 $1000 fine in lieu of a suspension
- 13/11/18 $2500 fine and 3 day suspension (winning drive in NZ Cup)

Mr Ydgren submitted that neither the force of the strikes or the repetitious nature of them were of particular concern. He said Ms Rasmussen was not a hard whip driver, but her technique is a problem needing to be addressed. He said that he will leave it up to the Committee to determine an appropriate penalty.

Ms Rasmussen offered no submissions as to penalty.

When asked by the Committee if she sought a deferment to any proposed suspension Ms Rasmussen advised she has no forthcoming driving commitments in New Zealand or Australia. When queried about race meeting she may be driving at over the next few weeks she advised that she would usually take drives close to the Christchurch area but would not be driving at Banks Peninsula on 17 March and Winton on 23 March 2019. 

Reasons For Penalty:

The JCA Penalty Guide for a 2nd or subsequent breach provides for a suspension starting at 3 – 5 days.

This is Ms Rasmussen’s 4th breach (from her last 40 drives) within the reset period. On a ratio of drives per breaches of this rule we have assessed her record as poor. It is of significance that this breach occurred in a Group 1 race with a stake of $250,000. Further Ms Rasmussen won the race by a narrow margin (head). These are significant aggravating factors that we must take into account when assessing penalty.

There are no compelling or relevant mitigating factors for us to take into account.

We accept the strikes were not forceful.

We have benchmarked our decision against the penalty imposed on Ms Rasmussen for her breach in the NZ Cup. We have adjusted the fine downward slightly to reflect the difference in stake money between the NZ Cup ($800,000) and this race ($250,000). In winning this race Ms Rasmussen’s share of the winning purse is in the vicinity of $6,500.

Whereas in the NZ Cup breach Ms Rasmussen incurred a 3 day suspension and a $2,500 fine, we believe after considering all the factors an appropriate penalty is a 5 day suspension and a $1,500 fine.

For the reasons we have outlined we must on this occasion impose a deterrent penalty. Accordingly we fine Ms Rasmussen $1,500 and suspend her driving license for 5 days.

Penalty:

The Committee issued Ms Rasmussen with a $1500 fine and suspend her license from after racing on 8 March 2019 until after racing on 30 March 2019. The meetings included are Christchurch (15/03), Wyndham (16/03), Christchurch Premier meeting (22/03), Christchurch (29/03) and Invercargill (30/03).

The meetings at Banks Peninsula (17/03) and Winton (23/03) were not included as Ms Rasmussen advised the Committee she had no intention of driving at those South Island meetings. 

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