You are here: Home / Race Days / Hawkes Bay RI - 13 April 2019 / Hawkes Bay RC 13 April 2019 - R 8 (heard on 14 April 2019 at Te Rapa) - Chair, Mr G Jones

Hawkes Bay RC 13 April 2019 - R 8 (heard on 14 April 2019 at Te Rapa) - Chair, Mr G Jones


Race: 8

Rule: 638(3) (b)(ii)

Committee: G Jones (chair)

A Dooley

Name(s): Ms T Thornton - Rider of THE COSSACK

Informant: Mr N Goodwin - Stipendiary Steward

Information Number: A11091

Plea: Denied

Charge: Excessive use of whip


This is a defended hearing arising from the running of race 8, #Go Winx Mile at the Hawke’s Bay Racing Club (RC) on 13 April 2019. Stipendiary Steward Mr N Goodwin filed an Information pursuant to Rule 638(3)(b)(ii) alleging that rider Ms T Thornton used her whip excessively prior to the 100 metres when riding THE COSSACK.

This charge was heard by the designated race day Committee at the Waikato RC meeting held at Te Rapa on 14 April 2019. The Committee was advised that RIU General Manager, Mr Godber authorised the filing of the Information pursuant to rule 903(2)(d). This charge was prosecuted by Senior Stipendiary Steward Mr M Williamson.

Prior to the commencement of the hearing, Mr Williamson advised the Committee that Ms Thornton had been spoken to concerning the charge and that she denied the breach. He added that there was only one side-on film available and Ms Thornton was offered the opportunity to have the charge adjourned to a later date. He said that she wished to proceed.

When the hearing commenced Ms Thornton confirmed that she denied the charge. The proposed procedure for the conduct of a defended hearing was explained to all parties.

Ms Thornton was asked by the Committee if she was disadvantaged in her defence due to having only one video film available of the alleged breach. Further, under the circumstances the Committee offered Ms Thornton the opportunity for the charge to be opened and adjourned to a date to be set by the JCA Executive Officer. She confirmed that she was wished to proceed.

Rule 638(3)(b)(ii) provides that a Rider shall not:

(ii) strike a horse with a whip in a manner or to an extent which is excessive

The “Guidelines with Respect to Acceptable Use of the Whip” provide:

Without affecting the generality of Rule 638(3) (b) a rider may be penalised if their whip use is outside of the following guidelines:

Inside the final 600 metres of any Race, official trial or jump-out a horse may be struck with the drawn whip up to five times after which the rider must cease their use of the whip for a minimum of five strides before striking the horse again with the drawn whip, with this restriction to apply prior to the final 100 metres. The whip may then be used at the rider’s discretion until the winning post is reached.

Prior to the final 600 metres of a race, official trial or jump-out the use of the drawn whip is acceptable if used in moderation and not continually.

In his evidence Stipendiary Steward Mr B Jones used the available video footage to demonstrate the alleged breach. He reiterated that there was only side-on footage and using this film he showed that THE COSSACK was leading the field entering the final straight. He said from that point Ms Thornton struck her mount on 15 occasions prior to the 100 metres. He said there was no respite for the required 5 strides and added that passing the 200 metres she did pause for 3 or 4 strides.

The Committee asked Ms Thornton if she wanted to cross examine Mr Jones. She advised that she had no questions.

When afforded the opportunity to present her case Ms Thornton said that she did not wish to offer any evidence in her defence. Further she said that she did not want to answer any questions.

When asked by the Committee whether she accepted the number of strikes alleged, she said that she “disagreed”.

Reasons for Decision

The Committee reviewed the available race film and identified that Ms Thornton struck her mount 10 times prior to the 200 metre mark. There were some pauses but not for the required 5 strides. Between the 200 and 100 metre mark she struck her mount a further five times. The strikes were not particularly forceful.

We confirmed that Ms Thornton did strike her mount on 15 occasions in breach of the guidelines with respect to acceptable whip use and on that basis we find the charge proven to the requisite standard, namely on the balance of probabilities.


We find the charge proved.

Submission for Penalty:

Mr Williamson produced Ms Thornton’s record which showed 2 previous breaches of the whip rules in the past 12 months. The first being on the 29th December 2018 resulted in an 8 day suspension. The second, on 30th December resulted in a further 8 day suspension. Mr Williamson submitted that the JCA Penalty Guide recommends a 6 to 8 day suspension for a third breach within a 12 month period. He said a suspension in that vicinity would be appropriate in this case.

Ms Thornton offered no submissions as to proposed penalty. When asked about her riding commitments over the next 7 days she advised that she has confirmed engagements at Matamata on 17 April 2019 and Ellerslie on 20 April 2019.

Reasons for Penalty:

The Committee carefully considered all the evidence and submissions presented. There are no compelling mitigating or aggravating factors for the Committee to take into account. The fact that this is Ms Thornton’s third breach of the rule is accommodated within the JCA Penalty Guide starting points. The number of strikes (15) is assessed as being within the mid-range given the distinct pause, albeit outside the guidelines, up to the 200 metre mark and from the 200 metres to the 100 metres. The total strikes were not forceful.

The JCA Guidelines establish the starting point for (first, second, or third) breach of Rule 638(3) (b) (ii) -

1st breach $300
2nd breach $500
3rd or subsequent breach 6-8 national riding day suspension

After taking into account all the above factors the Committee considers that a suspension of 7 days is appropriate.


Accordingly, we suspend Ms Thornton’s license to ride in races from the conclusion of racing on 20 April 2019 until after racing on 2 May 2019 (7 national days inclusive).

Document Actions