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Riccarton TC 6 April 2019 - R 6 - Chair, Mr R McKenzie

Created on 09 April 2019

RMcKenzie (chair)
A Comignaghi
Licensed Apprentice Jockey (Class B)
M J Williamson
Senior Stipendiary Steward
Mr D M Walsh - Apprentice Jockey Mentor
J M McLaughlin
Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
Excessive Use of Whip

Following the running of Race 6, Tom Toplis Memorial, an information was filed by Stipendiary Steward, Mr J M McLaughlin, against Licensed Apprentice Jockey (Class B), Miss A Comignaghi, alleging that Miss Comignaghi, as the rider of JOHNNY JONES in the race, used her whip excessively.

Miss Comignaghi was present at the hearing of the information and she indicated that she admitted the breach. She was assisted at the hearing by Apprentice Jockey Mentor, Mr D M Walsh.

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:

Inside the final 600 metres of a 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.

Mr McLaughlin had Senior Stipendiary Steward, Mr M J Williamson, point out the breach on video replays of the final 400 metres of the race. Mr Williamson showed that the runners were spread across the track. On the extreme outside of runners was MORSE CODE and, on the inside of that horse was JOHNNY JONES, ridden by Miss Comignaghi. Mr Williamson pointed out on the replay that Miss Comignaghi had struck her mount with five “pretty quick strikes” then ceased for more than five strides. Then, clearly prior to the 100 metres, Miss Comignaghi struck her mount nine times “in pretty quick succession” and with no break. Miss Comignaghi had told Stewards that she thought that she was inside the 100 metres and had been confused by being so wide out on the track.

Miss Comignaghi both accepted that the use of the whip and number of strikes was quite obvious. Miss Comignaghi explained that she does not hit strongly but, rather, she hits quick. The length of the straight was deceptive when racing so wide out on the track, she said. She confirmed that she had thought that she was inside the 100 metres at the time.

Mr Walsh said that he had seen senior riders “get lost” wide on this track and he could understand what Miss Comignaghi was saying. Her rapid whip action needed to be worked on, he said. Mr McLaughlin pointed out to the Committee that the 100 metres mark was also marked on the outside rail but, Miss Comignaghi said that she had been looking to her inside.


Miss Comignaghi having admitted the breach, the charge was found proved.

Submission For Penalty:

Mr McLaughlin informed the Committee that Miss Comignaghi had received a $500 fine on 22 September 2018 (9 times prior to the 100 metres) and on 14 March 2019 at Ashburton received a 6-days suspension (10 times prior to the 100 metres).

Mr McLaughlin said that, force-wise, this was a low-end breach. However, Miss Comignaghi has just resumed riding after completing a 6-days suspension for a breach of the same Rule, and submitted that the Committee should take this into account. He submitted that a term of suspension of between 6 and 8 days would be appropriate.

The matter of a deferment was then discussed. Miss Comignaghi indicated that she would like the opportunity to discuss the matter with her employers. The hearing was adjourned to give Miss Comignaghi the opportunity to do this.

When the hearing resumed, Miss Comignaghi advised the Committee that she did not seek a deferment.

Reasons For Penalty:

In determining penalty, the Committee had regard to the Penalty Guide which, for a 3rd or subsequent breach, which this is, suggests a starting point of a 6-8 national riding days suspension.

We agree with the Stewards’ assessment of the breach as being low-end. We accept that the strikes were not delivered with force and we have taken into account that Miss Comignaghi was wide out on the track and some distance out from the running rail and may have been disoriented. Accordingly, we have taken a starting point for a low-end breach of 6 days. However, the breach is the third breach of the Rule in the past 12 months. For that factor, we have added a day, uplifting the starting point to 7 days.

There are no mitigating factors to be considered.


Miss Comignaghi’s Apprentice Jockey’s licence (Class B) is suspended from after the close of racing on 6 April 2019 up to and including 18 April 2019 – 7 national riding days.

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