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Appeal - J Waddell May 2008



871.1.d
1207.2

Following the running of Race 3, McPherson Contractors 1100, held at the meeting of Racing Matamata at Matamata on 23 April 2008, Mr J L Waddell admitted a breach of Rule 871 (1) (d), in that he rode carelessly on STALINGRAD in permitting his mount to shift inwards near the 800 metres when not sufficiently clear

RESERVED REASONS FOR DECISION OF APPEALS TRIBUNAL

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Following the running of Race 3, McPherson Contractors 1100, held at the meeting of Racing Matamata at Matamata on 23 April 2008, Mr J L Waddell admitted a breach of Rule 871 (1) (d), in that he rode carelessly on STALINGRAD in permitting his mount to shift inwards near the 800 metres when not sufficiently clear of TYPHOON WARNING (A J Calder) who was dictated inwards forcing HOLD THE FORT (J B McDonald) inwards, resulting in that runner clipping heels. Mr Waddell’s jockey’s licence was suspended by the Judicial Committee from after 26 April 2008 up to and including 3 May 2008. The Judicial Committee stated in its written decision that the period of suspension was 5 riding days.

 

Mr Waddell has appealed against the penalty imposed by the Judicial Committee on the following grounds:

I believe the penalty to be excessive – 1 premier day and four others. I believe there is a strong argument to have this reduced and wish to fulfil my obligations to my employer, John Sargent, meantime. I served the entire month of January under suspension which, at the time, I felt was excessive, but did not complain or appeal.

 

Mr Waddell sought and was granted a stay of penalty pending the hearing of this appeal. The stay was not opposed by the Respondent.

 

At the outset of the hearing, head-on and side-on video replays of the incident that led to the charge being brought on raceday were shown to the Tribunal and each party was given the opportunity to comment.

 

SUBMISSIONS OF THE APPELLANT

Mr Waddell said that, in December 2007, he had incurred three suspensions within a space of two weeks. Since that time, he had not received any further suspension. He submitted that he is one of the busiest jockeys in New Zealand, riding all over the country and in every major race. Mr Waddell submitted that it was to his credit to have gone without a suspension for five months in those circumstances. He believed that this had not been taken into account by the raceday Judicial Committee, that looked only at the fact that he had had four suspensions since November 2007.

 

Mr Waddell said that, to be present at the hearing of his appeal, it was necessary to forego rides at Riverton on 1 May and Hawkes Bay on 2 May. This showed that this was not an “appeal of opportunity” enabling him to ride at any later meeting, he submitted. He believed that he had been harshly treated and had not previously appealed against any sentence. Furthermore, he had pleaded guilty to the charge at the first opportunity. The term of suspension had included a premier meeting which was harsh, given that there will be less opportunities for him now that the jumping season has started and that there are less premier meetings.

 

SUBMISSIONS ON BEHALF OF THE RESPONDENT

Mr Oatham stated that the Stewards’ recommendation on raceday of a 4 to 6 days’ suspension did take into account Mr Waddell’s admission of the breach and his recent good record. Mr Waddell had been relicensed as a jockey, after a period away from riding, in August 2007 – this was, therefore, his fifth term of suspension in 8½ months, Mr Oatham said.

 

The video replays showed “quite severe interference” which was, as submitted on raceday, in the mid to high range of careless riding. Mr Oatham said that riders had recently been put on notice that increased penalties are to be sought by Stipendiary Stewards from Judicial Committees. He submitted that a period of 4 days is now the minimum period that should be imposed in the Northern region and that being for offences at the lower end of the scale.

 

Mr Oatham produced some statistics showing that, in the period from 1 January 2008, 28 suspensions had been issued by Judicial Committees at race meetings in the Northern region. Of those, 11 were for 4 days, 9 were for a period of 5 days and 8 were for a period of 6 days or longer.     

 

Mr Oatham submitted that, when considering penalty, the Judicial Committee had clearly given due consideration to all factors, including Mr Waddell’s record, his guilty plea and the severity of the interference.

 

STATEMENT BY MR DILLON

The Tribunal permitted Mr Dillon to make a statement to the hearing. He referred to Mr Waddell’s having spent the month of January under suspension. More money is raced for in that month than in any other month of the racing season, Mr Dillon submitted. It was therefore a very expensive month for Mr Waddell as a suspension is a monetary penalty. Mr Waddell pleaded guilty to two of three charges of careless riding and paid his penalty without complaint. At the same time, another senior North Island jockey was twice warned for careless riding, both times in Group races. He suggested that this was a “gross inconsistency”.

 

DECISION OF TRIBUNAL

Rule 1207 (2) of the Rules of Racing gives an Appeals Tribunal, in the case of an appeal against penalty, a discretion to impose a lesser penalty than that imposed by the Judicial Committee if that penalty is “inappropriate or manifestly excessive”.

 

Having viewed the video replays of the incident giving rise to the charge of careless riding against Mr Waddell and having heard the submissions of both parties, the Tribunal is not satisfied that Mr Waddell has discharged the burden of proving that the penalty of a term of suspension of 5 days imposed by the Judicial Committee is inappropriate or manifestly excessive.

 

The Judicial Committee, in arriving at penalty, quite properly took into account the following matters:

1.       Mr Waddell’s record and, in particular, that he had four previous careless riding breaches on that record in the current racing season. We note that, with regard to Mr Waddell’s submission that the Committee did not give any weight to his recent good riding record, the Chairman stated (at page 7 of the transcript):

          “ . . . and we’ve taken into account what you told us regarding your record in the last few months which we agree it’s good, and its good to see that you have turned your riding around and haven’t been before a Committee for the last four months or so”;

2.       Mr Waddell’s guilty plea;

3.       The degree of carelessness and the checks to other runners in the Race. At page 7 of the transcript, the Chairman of the Judicial Committee said:

          “. . . and there could have been serious consequences and I am sure you are aware of that and that Mr Horner and Mr McDonald both suffered quite nasty checks”.

This Tribunal would categorise the degree of carelessness in the mid to high range and it was fortunate that one or more runners did not fall.

 

This Tribunal can find no grounds for interfering with the decision of the Judicial Committee as to penalty and, accordingly, the appeal by Mr Waddell against the severity of that penalty is dismissed.

 

PENALTY

Mr Oatham submitted that the appeal had no merit whatsoever and was lodged with a view to allowing Mr Waddell to ride at the premier meeting of Canterbury Racing on 3 May 2008. He referred to Rule 1213 and asked the Tribunal to consider that the appeal was frivolous and/or was lodged for that reason. The Rule gives the Tribunal, on dismissing an appeal and so finding, a discretion to increase the term of suspension or impose a fine not exceeding $5,000. He further submitted that the Tribunal has the power to order that the term of any suspension shall take effect immediately.

 

Mr Waddell informed the Tribunal that he had 9 confirmed rides at the Canterbury meeting and sought a deferment of the commencement of the period of suspension to enable him to fulfil those engagements. He disputed Mr Oatham’s submission that his appeal had been frivolous. He had foregone six rides at the Hawkes Bay meeting to be personally present at the hearing of his appeal, he said.

 

After a deliberation, the Tribunal directed that Mr Waddell’s jockey’s licence be suspended from after the close of racing on Sunday, 4 May 2008, up to and including Saturday, 10 May 2008. This period encompasses the meetings at Dargaville on 7 May, Woodville-Pahiatua on 8 May, Canterbury on 9 May and Matamata on 10 May. It was agreed by the parties that one day of the original 5-days’ suspension, namely the Blenheim meeting on Sunday 27 April, had already been served. The commencement date of the suspension has been specified as Sunday, 4 May, to avoid any doubt as to whether the meeting at Gore on that date is included as one of the days for which Mr Waddell has been suspended. It is not but, in practical terms, Mr Waddell is effectively unable to ride at that meeting because of the closing time for declaration of riders for that meeting.

 

The Tribunal is prepared to grant the deferment sought by Mr Waddell to enable him to ride at the Canterbury meeting on 3 May 2008. This is appropriate, the Tribunal believes, having regard to the interests of connections and punters. In particular, it would be unreasonable to expect owners and trainers to secure the services of a suitable replacement rider so close to a major meeting.  

 

The Tribunal is not prepared to find that Mr Waddell’s appeal was frivolous and/or lodged to allow him to ride at the Canterbury premier meeting on 3 May. While Mr Waddell has not been penalised for a frivolous appeal, the Tribunal notes that as a consequence of his appeal, Mr Waddell has missed the opportunity to accept rides at, possibly, the Hawkes Bay and Gore meetings. In addition, he will incur a financial penalty as a consequence of his appeal’s being dismissed in terms of losing his deposit and being ordered to pay costs.

 

The Tribunal records that it is to Mr Waddell’s credit that he has facilitated the early hearing of his appeal.

 

COSTS

Mr Oatham sought an order for costs in the sum of $200 in favour of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing.

 

Mr Waddell is ordered to pay costs of $200 to New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing and costs of $1,750 to the Judicial Control Authority.

 

In addition, it is ordered that the filing fee of $250 be forfeited to New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing.

 

R G McKenzie                                   B P Holland

CHAIRMAN                                     MEMBER    

 

 

 

 

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