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Non-Raceday Inquiry - BR Jones



528.4
1003.1
520.4.a
520.4.1

The Defendant is charged with the breach of Rules 528 (4) and 520 (4) (a) of the New Zealand Rules of Racing by Chief Racecourse Inspector Mr J W McKenzie as follows :

THAT on Saturday the 12th day of July 2008 at the Ruakaka Racecourse at the race meeting conducted by the Whangarei Racing Club, being a rider who having been requested by a Racecourse Inspector to supply a sample of his breath which was found to have a level greater than 100 micrograms (0.02%) of alcohol per litre of breath

 

DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

________________________________

 

The Defendant is charged with the breach of Rules 528 (4) and 520 (4) (a) of the New Zealand Rules of Racing by Chief Racecourse Inspector Mr J W McKenzie as follows :

THAT on Saturday the 12th day of July 2008 at the Ruakaka Racecourse at the race meeting conducted by the Whangarei Racing Club, being a rider who having been requested by a Racecourse Inspector to supply a sample of his breath which was found to have a level greater than 100 micrograms (0.02%) of alcohol per litre of breath, committed a breach of Rule 528 (4) of the New Zealand Rules of Racing AND THAT you are thereby liable to the penalty or penalties which may be imposed upon you pursuant to Rule 1003 (1) of the said Rules.

 

YOU ARE FURTHER CHARGED that on Saturday the 12th day of July 2008,at the Ruakaka Racecourse at the race meeting conducted by the Whangarei Racing Club being a rider, and having entered into riding engagements with a trainer or trainers to ride in races on that day, in accordance with the provisions of Rule 508, AND THAT you did by virtue of failing to meet the required provisions of Rule 528 (4) YOU DID THEREBY without reasonable cause break your riding engagements on that day in breach of Rule 520 (4) (a) of the New Zealand Rules of Racing, AND THAT you are liable to the penalty or penalties which may be imposed upon you pursuant to Rule 1003 (1) of the said Rules.

 

The Defendant pleaded guilty to the charge.

 

SUMMARY OF FACTS :

 

On Saturday 12th July 2008, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing required all riders at the Whangarei Racing Club's meeting at Ruakaka to undergo alcohol breath testing.

 

In total, 21 riders were tested in accordance with the NZTR protocol for alcohol breath testing.

 

The Defendant, Licensed Jockey B R Jones, was subjected to two breath tests.  On each occasion the readings were found to be in excess of the allowable level.

 

Mr Jones acknowledged he had been drinking the previous night.  He stated he did not believe he had drunk to excess.  He acknowledged he had eaten nothing for the past two days or so and had eaten nothing on the morning of the races that day.  He accepted in hindsight that drinking alcohol in the absence of food or water at a time of relatively short duration prior to riding would have an adverse effect.

Jockey Jones was totally co-operative.  He was philosophical about the consequences of an excess reading.

 

On the issue relating to Jockey Jones not being eligible to ride he is, it is submitted by NZTR, in a position of strict liability of failing to meet his obligations to ride in races on the day in accordance with his riding engagements.  There is no evidence to corroborate that Mr Jones wilfully set out to get himself intoxicated to the extent he could not ride the next day.  However the consequences of drinking alcohol and not eating or drinking neutral fluids are transparently apparent, and very dependant on the quantity of alcohol consumed.

 

Regardless of quantity, the result in this case is that the consumption of alcohol by Mr Jones resulted in him being unable to meet his obligations to fulfil his riding engagements and as a result he was forced to break such engagements, in accordance with the provision of Rule 520 (4) (a).

 

The Rules of Racing provide for the declaration of riders in advance of race day.  The owners, trainers and punters are all affected by a change of rider, particularly when it is announced that a rider has been stood down by the officials.

 

In this instance, because charges had not been filed it was not appropriate to be definitive, and the official explanation was 'the rider was stood down on medical grounds'.

 

It is relevant to note that because all riders on course were tested on this occasion, most stakeholders were well aware rider Jones and another stood down because they failed their breath testing procedure.

 

 

PENALTY SUBMISSIONS BY MR JW McKENZIE -

 

Mr  Jones has been co-operative in all matters associated with this inquiry.  He acknowledges that he did consume alcohol the night following the Friday race meeting and before arriving at the course on Saturday.  He expressed surprise when he read the reading recorded on the Alcoholiser and could only suggest that because he had not eaten for a couple of days, and had no breakfast that Saturday morning, he had not cleared the effects of the alcohol consumed the previous evening.

 

Mr Jones is a senior rider, respected amongst his peers and industry stakeholders.  He is the riders representative in the Northern Region, a position he takes seriously.

 

I accept this incident has been embarrassing for him and the other rider concerned, he too is a senior and respected jockey.

 

NZTR has introduced alcohol testing of riders, during track work, trials and race days solely for the purposes of and in the interest of safety.

 

While this breach of the Rules is under the same rule as Drug Testing for illicit drugs as defined in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, (and the use by riders found taking Diuretics) it is not regarded to warrant a penalty consistent with a rider having a prohibited substance in their metabolism.

 

Gentlemen, this is a first for NZTR, following the introduction of alcohol testing of riders in February 2008.

 

Careful consideration has been given to the quantum of penalty.  The submissions I make today may well be different from what will be sought in future cases.

 

It is submitted by NZTR that for these first two riders, in breach of Rule 528 (4), a penalty of one month's suspension and a fine of $1,000 be imposed.

 

 

 

Consideration was given to a penalty of a fine only, but this would be at such a level that only the riders making serious income could afford it.  In future, the penalty sought could well be greater, now that a deterrent penalty has been sought and a future offender chose to ignore.  You will note in this instance NZTR has sought suspension, not disqualification, which will enable the rider to ride track work and ride in trials.

 

With regard to the failing to be in a position to keep his riding engagements in accordance with the provision of Rule 520 (4) (a), on this occasion a penalty of $500.00 is sought.

 

I submit on behalf of NZTR that, in future cases where riders have to forego their riding engagements because they have failed or breached Rule 528 (4), the consequential penalty may well be considerably higher.

 

Gentlemen, Mr Jones has pleaded guilty.  He has been totally co-operative and we have been able to absorb these matters before race day commitments.  No costs are sought by NZTR.

 

 

PENALTY SUBMISSIONS BY MR B R JONES

 

Mr Jones produced written submissions emphasising that a contributing factor to his excess level was a lack of food, in combination with attending a function the previous night where he had consumed alcohol.

 

 

PENALTY DECISION :

 

Before imposing a fair penalty, the Committee took into account the following :

 

1.      As safety in the industry is paramount, Mr Jones' actions in presenting himself on raceday with an excess alcohol level was deemed to be irresponsible, in particular, when Mr Jones is the Northern Riders' Representative, who should be respected and trusted by fellow riders.

 

2.      The inconvenience imposed on trainers and owners who had engaged Mr Jones.

 

3.      Integrity in racing is also most important and this was compromised by the defendant's actions.

 

4.      We have considered the defendant's guilty plea and full co-operation with the Racecourse Inspector.

 

5.      The penalty must contain a deterrent element to remind all riders of their obligations to the industry.

 

6.      Finally, we have carefully considered the Defendant's submissions on penalty, and those of Mr McKenzie.

 

The Committee does not think Mr McKenzie has been unreasonable in his recommendations, particularly that we are continuously striving to improve safety and integrity in our industry.  We also note NZTR could well be asking for higher penalties in future for similar breaches of this Rule.

 

Accordingly, we impose a suspension for the breach of Rule 528 (4) of one month, starting from the conclusion of racing on the 26th July and concluding after racing on the 23rd August 2008.  In addition we impose a fine of $750.00.

 

Regarding the breach of Rule 520 (4) (1) we impose a fine of $375.00.

 

 

R Seabrook

Chairman

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