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Non-Raceday Inquiry - JF Parsons



1004.6
1004.2C
111.1
1003.1

The defendant has been charged (Information 67351) with one breach of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing by Racecourse Inspector Mr Kitto, as follows.

 

“On the 27th day of April 2008, at the Rangiora Harness Racing Club’s meeting, held at the Rangiora racecourse, during the day of racing and prior to the horse racing, in respect of the horse “Cup Day” which was entered in a race, namely Race 7, the Rangiora Equine Services (Becky Sutorius) “Rangiora Classic”, you did administer by injection a substance, namely Glycerol

DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

 

 

The defendant has been charged (Information 67351) with one breach of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing by Racecourse Inspector Mr Kitto, as follows.

 

“On the 27th day of April 2008, at the Rangiora Harness Racing Club’s meeting, held at the Rangiora racecourse, during the day of racing and prior to the horse racing, in respect of the horse “Cup Day” which was entered in a race, namely Race 7, the Rangiora Equine Services (Becky Sutorius) “Rangiora Classic”, you did administer by injection a substance, namely Glycerol also known as Glycerine, in breach of Rule 1004(6) and you and the horse are liable to the penalty or penalties which may be imposed in accordance with Rules 1003(1)(a)(b)(c) and (2)(a)(b)(i)(ii)(iii) of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing.”

 

 

 

            Rule 1004(6) provides as follows.

 

“(6)      No person shall during any day of racing, in respect of a horse

entered in a race, administer by injection, nasal gastric tube,

gastric tube, ventilator, or nebulizer any substance whatsoever. 

Where such administration occurs both the person and the

trainer commit a breach of this sub-rule unless such device was

used after the horse had raced or under the direction or supervision

of a club veterinary surgeon, Racecourse Inspector or Stipendiary

Steward.

For the purposes of this sub-rule the day of racing is deemed to

commence 12 hours prior to the first race and conclude half an hour after the last race.”

 

            Mr Parsons attended this hearing and he admitted this breach of the Rules. He confirmed that he understood the Rule and the nature of the charge.

 

            Mr Kitto produced a letter from the General Manager of Harness Racing New Zealand (“HRNZ”) giving approval to bring this charge.

 

            Mr Kitto produced and read a Summary of Facts relating to this matter, and this is attached to this decision.

 

            The facts are that Mr Parsons is the trainer of “Cup Day” which was correctly entered for and started in Race 7, the Rangiora Equine Services (Becky Sutorius)  “Rangiora Classic”, held by the Rangiora Harness Racing Club on Sunday 27 April 2008 at Rangiora Raceway.

 

            Prior to the Race Mr Parsons was seen to inject by syringe something over the tongue and down the throat of “Cup Day” while it was in its allocated stall.  Mr Parsons was seen to throw the syringe into his gear bag after he had used it.  By the time Mr Kitto was advised about this incident the horses were already on the track, and the race was duly run with “Cup Day” finishing 11th out of the 12 runners.

 

After the race Mr Kitto interviewed Mr Parsons and his assistant.  It was admitted by both persons that a syringe had been loaded with glycerine and injected over the tongue of “Cup Day”.  Mr Parsons said that he knew he was in the wrong.  It was also stated that Mr Parsons had been told by Mr Robin Scott, Racecourse Inspector for New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (“NZTR”), that he had to have permission from a Racecourse Inspector before injecting in this manner.

 

There were also discussions at the hearing relating to the history of Rule 1004(6) of the Harness Racing rules.  It was established that this Rule, in its present form, had been inserted in the Harness Racing Rules as from 1 August 2006, and that the Racing Rules had been amended with a similar Rule being inserted (Rule 1004(2C)) as from the same date.

 

The syringe and container were found in the gear bag, and on being analysed they were found to contain glycerol also known as glycerine.  The horse “Cup Day” was pre-race blood tested and post race swabbed, and both tests were negative for prohibited substances.

 

Mr Parsons was asked if he agreed with the facts as stated. He said that he had injected the glycerine under the horses tongue and not over it.  He explained that it was not intended that the horse swallow the glycerine, but that it should retain it in it’s mouth so that it would take the bit.

 

Penalty:

 

            Mr Kitto presented written submissions on penalty, and these are also attached to this decision.  The penalty provisions for a breach of Rule 1004(6) are contained in Rules 1003(1) and (2), which provide as follows.

 

“1003(1) A person who commits a breach of any Rule shall (subject to the provisions of Rule 111(1), 113(5), 451(3), 507(4), 1001 or 1004 hereof) shall be liable to the following penalties:

 

(a)    a fine not exceeding $5,000;  and/or

 

(b)    suspension from holding or obtaining a licence for a period not exceeding 12 months; and/or

 

(c)    disqualification for a period not exceeding 12 months.

In addition to or in substitution of any penalty imposed pursuant to sub-rule (1) hereof, any horse connected with the breach of the Rule may be scratched or disqualified from any race and/or disqualified for a period not exceeding 12 months.

 

(2)               Every horse which commits a breach of any Rule shall be liable to the following penalties:-

 

(a)    to be disqualified or scratched from any race; and/or

 

(b)    to be disqualified for a period not exceeding 12 months.

 

In addition to or substitution of any penalty imposed pursuant to sub-rule (2) hereof, the driver, owner and/or person in charge of the horse shall be liable to:

 

(i)                 a fine not exceeding $5000; and/or

 

(ii)               suspension from holding or obtaining a licence for a period not exceeding 12 months; and/or

 

(iii)             disqualification for a period not exceeding 12 months.”

 

 Mr Kitto referred to three previous decisions which were helpful, these being

NZTR v. S(2008), NZTR v. W(2007) and HRNZ v. C(2007).  He listed the mitigating factors in Mr Parsons’ favour as follows.

 

-          He was open and honest as to what had occurred.

-          He had admitted the breach at the first available opportunity.

-          He had no previous convictions.

-          There was no suggestion that a prohibited substance was involved.

 

Mr Kitto said that the aggravating factor was that Mr Parsons had been told by a

Racecourse Inspector that this sort of administration was in breach of the Rules, and that he was therefore well aware of what he was doing.  Mr Parsons agreed that that he knew that this was in breach of the Rules.

 

            Mr Kitto submitted that a fine of between $2500-00 and $4000-00 would be appropriate in this case.

 

Decision on Penalty:

 

            The three cases mentioned by Mr Kitto (see above) had resulted in a fine of $750-00 (S), a fine of $4000-00 (W), and (on appeal) a 4 month disqualification plus a fine of $2500-00 (C).

 

            We have discounted the penalty imposed in the S case as being an unhelpful guide.  We note that the penalty imposed was as recommended by the Informant in that case, but believe that it is well out of line with the penalties imposed in the earlier W and C cases.

 

In relation to penalty Mr Parsons said he accepted that he was in the wrong.  He also said that in his opinion the W breach was more serious than his, as in that case it involved the “tubing” of the horse.

 

We agree with Mr Parsons that the W case was arguably more serious than his breach.  Taking all the above matters into account we are satisfied that a fine is an appropriate penalty in this case, and Mr Parsons will be fined the sum of $3000-00.

 

Disqualification of “Cup Day”:

 

Mr Kitto also sought the disqualification of   “Cup Day” from it’s 11th place and forfeiture of the stake money of $518-00.  As set out above Rule 1003(1) provides that in addition to or in substitution of any penalty imposed any horse connected with a breach of Rule 1004(6) may be scratched or disqualified from any race.

 

Mr Parsons disputed that “Cup Day” should be disqualified on the ground that no prohibited substance was involved.  He also disputed that the $518-00 was a “stake” payable, but rather it was a reimbursing payment for the horse starting in the race. 

 

We have considered this matter and find that the $518-00 was a part of the total stake money payable in this race.  Our reasons for this finding is that the $518-00 is shown in the official race result as being part of the total stake money of $48,448-00 payable to the participants in this race.

 

 In C the horse involved was disqualified in similar circumstances for a breach of this Rule.  In coming to the decision to disqualify in that case the Judicial Committee said –

 

“There were submissions from HRNZ that the circumstances of this case were similar to those in the case HRNZ v. P of 22 August 2005 where “Light and Sound” was disqualified from two races.  There was no evidence that there had been a breach of the prohibited substance rule, but the Judicial Committee concluded that disqualifications were necessary “….to maintain integrity and public confidence in Harness Racing”.  This decision was upheld on appeal”.

 

For these same reasons we are satisfied that “Cup Day” should be disqualified in

this case.  There will therefore be an order that “Cup Day” be disqualified from its 11th placing in the Rangiora Equine Services (Becky Sutorius) “Rangiora Classic” at the Rangiora Harness Racing Club’s meeting on the 27th day of April 2008.  HRNZ are to arrange to deal with the $518-00 stake money according to their rules.

 

Costs:

 

            Mr Kitto advised that costs were not being sought by HRNZ.  There will however be an order for costs of $100-00 to be paid to the JCA.

 

 

 

 

J.  M. Phelan

Chairman.  

 

 

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