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Non Raceday Inquiry - HRNZ v G Anderson - 10 September 2010 - Decision

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AND IN THE MATTER of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing





             Public Trainer




Information:   No. 66897

Judicial Committee:   Prof G Hall (Chairman) - Mr N Skelt (Member)

Appearing:                    Mr D Jackson (for the informant)

                                       Defendant in person

Date of Hearing:        10 September 2010

Date of Decision:        10 September 2010




[1]               Mr Anderson has admitted a breach of R 303(2). We thus find the charge proved.

[2]               After consideration, an agreed summary of facts was placed before this Committee, the salient features of which we now recount:

On Thursday 22 April 2010 Mr Anderson was the trainer of HI GUN in race 7 The Moth Handicap Pace at the Forbury Park Trotting Club’s meeting at Forbury Park Raceway, Dunedin.

HI GUN was the win favourite for the race and finished in 3rd place.

Following the running of the race Mr Anderson approached Mr John Dunn, the driver of SOKY’S GAIN, which had competed in the same race.

Mr Dunn was driving his horse SOKY’S GAIN off the racetrack towards the parade ring and stabling area.

Mr Anderson repeatedly used the words “f***” or “f*****” in a loud and forceful manner, which could clearly be heard by people in the vicinity.

Mr Anderson was visibly angry and during the incident alleged that Mr Dunn had driven SOKY’S GAIN in such a way as to cost HI GUN the opportunity to win the race.

At the time of this incident an estimated 20 people were in the vicinity, including other licence holders, club officials, females and connections of horses that had competed in the race.

After Mr Dunn returned his horse to the stabling area Mr Anderson approached him again and directed language towards him, which included the words “f***” or “f*****”.

[3]               Mr Jackson has responsibly acknowledged that the amended summary is more favourable to Mr Anderson than that which had originally been prepared.

[4]               Mr Jackson has also acknowledged that Mr Anderson has been very co-operative today and has conducted himself in a highly professional manner.

[5]               Mr Jackson asked this Committee to consider that there were two occasions on which Mr Anderson used the “f” words. That after confronting Mr Dunn, Mr Anderson had continued to abuse him. This he said was ill-advised. He emphasised in his view Mr Anderson’s conduct fell well below the standard expected of a public trainer.

[6]               Mr Anderson had a previous breach of this Rule on 14 August 2008 and Mr Jackson identified this as an aggravating factor.

[7]               Mr Jackson referred to the decision in H in Invercargill in March this year where H, for whom it was a first breach, was fined $600. However, in that case, H abused officials and licence-holders in the birdcage, the general public area and the stewards room. We believe this to be clearly a more serious breach than that of Mr Anderson whose comments were made off the track and were not directed at officials. Mr Jackson accepted this when questioned by this Committee.

[8]               Mr Jackson submitted that a fine of $700 was appropriate and, because of the good faith that Mr Anderson had shown with respect to the amending of the summary of facts, he did not seek costs on behalf of HRNZ.

[9]               Mr Anderson said he had admitted the breach at the earliest opportunity after he had had clarification of what behaviour might amount to misconduct for the purpose of R 303(2). He emphasised that Mr Jackson had stated that HRNZ would consider the issue of whether the Rules needed clarification in this respect.

[10]           He said the use of the “f” words were commonplace today. In this regard this Committee notes the particular context in which the words were used. Mr Dunn had just come off the track, the words were directed to the manner in which he had driven in the race, and were expressed in a loud and forceful manner.

[11]           We accept Mr Anderson’s statement that the words were used in a one-on-one situation and were directed at Mr Dunn and not to anyone else, but clearly the volume of Mr Anderson’s comments was such that they were able to be overheard by those persons in the vicinity of the two of them.

[12]           Mr Anderson submitted that the smallest fine possible should be imposed and he emphasised that he had co-operated fully today with respect to the matter and, in particular, that he had appeared without the assistance of his counsel, who was currently overseas. He said he had done so in order to expedite the hearing of this matter.

[13]           There is a need to hold Mr Anderson accountable. His behaviour is clearly unacceptable. As an experienced licence-holder and a very successful trainer (indeed we understand he is currently the leading trainer in Otago), Mr Anderson should have been fully aware of this fact. The integrity of harness racing is a paramount consideration.

[14]           Taking into account Mr Anderson’s co-operation today and his ready admission of the breach once there was an amended summary of facts, and weighing his previous breach of Rule 303(2) against the penalty imposed in the more serious case of H, we believe a fine of $600 is appropriate. This is a non-raceday hearing. A contribution by Mr Anderson to the costs of the Judicial Control Authority in the sum of $200 is also ordered.

_______________________________          ____________

Professor Geoff Hall                                         Mr Nigel Skelt



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