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Canterbury JC - 14 November 2020 - R 7 - Chair, Mr R McKenzie

Created on 20 November 2020

Rules:
638(3)(b)(ii)
Committee:
RMcKenzie (chair)
SChing
Name(s):
Mr CW Johnson - Licensed Jockey (Class A)
Mr M Davidson - Stipendiary Steward
Informant
Mr JP Oatham - Chief Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
A12846
Plea:
Admitted
Charge:
Excessive Use of Whip
Evidence:

Following the running of Race 7, NZB RTR Sale 18-19 November Premier, an Information was filed by Chief Stipendiary Steward, Mr JP Oatham, against Licensed Jockey (Class A), Mr CW Johnson, alleging that Mr Johnson as the rider of BABY MENAKA in the race, “struck his mount excessively prior to the 100 metres”.

Mr Johnson was present at the hearing of the Information and he indicated that he understood the charge and that he admitted the breach.

Rule 638 provides as follows:
(3) A Rider shall not:
(b) strike a horse with a whip in a manner or to an extent which is:
(ii) excessive

The “Guidelines With Respect to Acceptable Use of the Whip” provide as follows:
Without affecting the generality of Rule 638(3)(b) a rider may be penalised if their whip use is outside of the following guidelines:

Inside the final 600 metres of any Race, official trial or jump-out a horse may be struck with the drawn whip up to five times after which the rider must cease their use of the whip for a minimum of five strides before striking the horse again with the drawn whip, with this restriction to apply prior to the final 100 metres. The whip may then be used at the rider’s discretion until the winning post is reached. Prior to the final 600 metres of a race, official trial or jump-out the use of the drawn whip is acceptable if used in moderation and not continually.

Mr Oatham showed video replays of the final 400 metres of the race. He pointed out BABY MENAKA, ridden by Mr Johnson, racing beyond midfield, take a run along the rail as the field entered the final straight. Mr Oatham alleged that Mr Johnson had used his whip eleven times prior to the 100 metres. Mr Oatham said that it was difficult to count as the whip use was “pretty innocuous”. The whip use was “spaced out”, Mr Oatham said, apart from two “little backhand slaps” in quick succession. There were only two more inside the final 100 metres, Mr Oatham said.

Mr Johnson said that he had no excuse, except that his horse was laying in.

The Committee noted that BABY MENAKA finished in 3rd placing, the judge’s margins being ½ length, 1¼ lengths and 1¼ lengths.

Decision:

Mr Johnson has admitted the breach and, accordingly, the charge is found proved.

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Oatham said that Mr Johnson has a clear record. He travels extensively and is not a rider who breaches the whip rule. His whip use on this occasion involved all backhand slaps with no aggressive whip use but, unfortunately, the count was eleven which resulted in the charge being brought.

Mr Oatham referred to the starting point in the Penalty Guideline – if the number of strikes is 10 or more, a 6-days suspension. However, on this occasion, the Stewards “strongly submit”, having regard to Mr Johnson’s record and his use of the whip on this occasion, his use of the whip was not excessive and could be dealt with by way of a fine – in the range of $500-$1,000.

Mr Davidson, Stipendiary Steward, said that Mr Johnson has had 515 rides in the last 12 months which, of course, included the COVID-19 lockdown period.

Mr Johnson said that Mr Oatham had summed up the situation pretty well. He recalled that his most recent charge was, perhaps, 5 years ago and he was fined $300 or $350 (see below). He said his preference was for a fine over a suspension.

Reasons For Penalty:

The Penalty Guide provides for a 6-days suspension in a case in which the number of strikes is 10 or more and they go on to say that mitigation is to be exceptional.

In reaching a decision on penalty in this case, the Committee has taken into account the following matters which it considers are relevant. Firstly, Mr Johnson’s record under the whip rule. The Committee believes that his most recent breach was on 25 March 2019 when he was fined $300. We note that Mr Johnson has had 515 rides in the last 12 months (132 this season prior to this meeting and 542 in the 2019/2020 season). Secondly, the low force of the strikes, which were all backhanders including two “slaps” and broken up. Mr Oatham twice described the force as “innocuous”. Finally, we have taken into account the totality of whip use and, in this regard, it is noted that Mr Johnson used his whip, in a similar manner, only twice in the final 100 metres.

The breach, even though the number exceeded 10, is low-end and having regard to Mr Johnson’s record, which is excellent, is not deserving of a suspension.

Penalty:

Mr Johnson is fined the sum of $1,000.

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