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Geraldine TC 23 November 2019 - R 9 - Chair, Mr R McKenzie

Created on 27 November 2019

RMcKenzie (chair)
R L Houghton
Licensed Open Driver
S P Renault
Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
Contravention of the Use of Whip Regulations

Following the running of Race 8, Timaru Hire Centre Handicap Trot, an information was filed by Stipendiary Steward, Mr S P Renault, against Licensed Open Driver, Mr R L Houghton, alleging that Mr Houghton, as the driver of TAKE AFTER ME in the race, “used his whip on more occasions than permitted in the last 400 metres under the Use of the Whip Regulations”.

Mr Houghton had signed the Statement by the Respondent on the information form indicating that he admitted the charge. He confirmed this at the hearing, at which he was present.

Rule 869 provides as follows:

(2) No horseman shall during any race use a whip in a manner in contravention of the Use of the Whip Regulations made by the Board.

The Use of Whip Regulations (effective from 30 November 2017) provide:

(b) No horseman is permitted to use their whip in a striking motion on more than ten occasions inside the final 400 metres. This is inclusive of “backhanders” and the use applies to the horse, harness and/or sulky.

Mr Renault showed a video replay of the final 400 metres of the race. He pointed out TAKE AFTER ME, driven by Mr Houghton, making a challenge wide on the track as the field entered the home straight. Mr Renault alleged that Mr Houghton used his whip twice before the straight. He then activated the removable deafeners and, following that, used his whip another 13 times. However, the final three or four were more “flicks” than anything, Mr Renault said, but there were 11 clear strikes. He said that he was happy to place it in the low-range of 11-13 strikes. Mr Houghton indicated that he accepted that.

Mr Houghton submitted that the majority of strikes were on the sulky shaft but he accepted they were included under the Regulations. He accepted that his whip action looks bad and he acknowledged that he needs to change it.


Mr Houghton having admitted the breach, the charge is found proved.

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Renault said that Mr Houghton has a previous breach on his record – on 10 October 2019 at NZ Metropolitan TC. He had had 10 drives this season, 5 since the previous breach. He referred to the Penalty Guide starting point for a second breach of a 3-5 days suspension. The breach was a low-end one and Stewards were submitting that a 3 days suspension was an appropriate penalty.

The hearing then proceeded by way of looking at upcoming meetings at which Mr Houghton would be likely to drive and the matter of a deferment was discussed. Mr Houghton indicated that he did not seek a deferment. He said that he was taking a 2-year-old to Auckland to race in a heat of the Young Guns Series on Friday, 6 December, and intended to drive it. 

Reasons For Penalty:

The Committee had regard to the Penalty Guide starting point for a second breach of a 3-5 days suspension. The Committee viewed the breach as being low-range – it was only a second breach and there were no aggravating factors. The appropriate starting point, having regard to those factors, is a 3-days suspension. Mr Houghton’s admission of the breach does not call for a discount from that starting point.


Mr Houghton’s Open Driver’s Licence is suspended from after the close of racing on 23 November 2019 up to and including 6 December 2019 – 3 days. The meetings intended to be encompassed by the period of suspension are NZ Metropolitan TC, Banks Peninsula TC and Auckland TC (6 December 2019).

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