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Invercargill HRC 16 July 2020 - R 6 (heard 24 July 2020 at Addington) - Chair, Mr S Ching



869(3)(b)

BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

IN THE MATTER of the New Zealand

Rules of Harness Racing

IN THE MATTER of Information No. 12879

BETWEEN R HALEY

Stipendiary Steward for the Racing Integrity Unit

Informant

AND T WILLIAMS of Rolleston, Licensed Open Horseman

Respondent

Date of Hearing: 24 July 2020

Venue: Addington Raceway, Christchurch

Judicial Committee: S Ching (Chair)

Present: N Ydgren, Chief Stipendiary Steward, for the Informant

N McIntyre, Stipendiary Steward

T Williams, Respondent

Date of Decision: 24 July 2020

PENALTY DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

The Charge

[1] Information No. A12879 alleges that:

T Williams, as the driver of I’M JIMMY JAMES, drove carelessly passing the 400 metres, when shifting ground, checking outside runners.

[2] This information was lodged at the Invercargill Harness Racing Clubs meeting on 16 July 2020 and was adjourned sine die on the day.

The Rules

Rule 869(3)(b) reads as follows;

(3) No horseman in any race shall drive:-

(b) carelessly;

The Plea

[3] Mr Williams had endorsed the Information that the breach was admitted which he confirmed at the hearing. Mr Williams also confirmed he understood the Rule he was being charged with.

Facts

[4] On 16 July 2020 at the Invercargill Harness Racing Club’s meeting at Invercargill Raceway, Mr T Williams was the driver of I’M JIMMY JAMES in Race 6, the Harliwich Holdings Mobile Pace and was placed 3rd in the event.

Informants Evidence

[5] Mr Ydgren, showed video replays of the incident which occurred near the 400m, which showed Mr Williams, driving I’M JIMMY JAMES, was racing 3 back on the pylons with MY GEORGIE BOY, driven by Mr P Hunter, HAZER, driven by Miss K Tomlinson, and WEE RING THE CHANGES, driven by Mr M Hurrell, racing on the outside of Mr Williams in that order. Mr Ydgren pointed out Mr Williams shift Mr Hunter out, when entitled to, in order to improve. He showed Mr Hunter being shifted out and in doing so was forced into the line of Miss Tomlinson. Miss Tomlinson was positioned near the wheel of Mr Hunter and because Mr Hurrell was on her immediate outside, Miss Tomlinson had no way to relieve the pressure and was checked resulting in her runner making contact, stumbling and going rough for a few strides. Mr Ydgren stated that Mr Williams miscalculated his movement out resulting in the incident.

Respondents Submissions:

[6] Mr Williams elected to make no submissions in relation to the incident.

Decision:

[7] Mr Williams, having admitted the breach, the charge was found proved.

Submissions of Informant on Penalty:

[8] Mr Ydgren stated that Mr Williams had lifetime drives to date of 4104, and so far, this season, 468. He said Mr Williams was a busy driver considering the lock down period for Covid-19 during the current season. Mr Ydgren stated that Mr Williams had a clear record in relation to this Rule going back to 12 November 2019 at Addington where he received a 3-day suspension for careless driving. He described Mr Williams’ record as good considering the number of drives he has had to date. Mr Ydgren stated credit should be given to Mr Williams for his good record, his admission of the breach and his excellent conduct before the Stewards. He stated that the JCA Penalty Guide provides a starting point of a 10-drive suspension or a $500 for a breach of this rule. Mr Ydgren said that a suspension was an appropriate penalty in this case. He submitted that the breach was mid-range. He added that the action of the affected horse, was more good luck than good management, that it did not come to a worse fate than it did.

[9] Mr Ydgren submitted that an aggravating factor was that two horses were affected. Another aggravating factor, that could be considered, would be that Mr Williams had achieved a run, through a breach of the Rule, resulting in him finishing in a possibly higher position that he may not have been entitled to do so. Mr Ydgren produced historical evidence that Mr Williams drove on average 5 times per meeting with the recent race days showing drives of 6, 7, 4, 6, 3 and 4. He also added that at a recent Sunday meeting Mr Williams did not have a drive. This, he said, in balance with Mr Williams good record and his admission of the breach, submitted that a 2-day suspension be considered as penalty.

Respondent’s Submissions on Penalty:

[10] Mr Williams stated that Mr Ydgren had touched on several good points. He said the race had a stake of $7,500 which should be taken into consideration. Mr Williams added that both affected horses ran down the track as well as both were under pressure at the time of the movement, therefore the affect to both runners was minimal. He added that he noticed that Mr Hunter’s horse wore a Murphy Blind on the inside and didn’t accept the push when it started, when he had the advantage. As a result, he said, Mr Hunter had to grab his horse and then checked. Mr Williams stated that Miss Tomlinson then copped the backwash of Mr Hunter’s sudden movement out. He stated that there was no contact between himself and Mr Hunter which would suggest he had plenty of room and plenty of opportunity to give himself room.

Mr Williams stated that a 2-day suspension was excessive as his drives going forward were increasing in numbers, as the Purdon/Rasmussen team, were coming into racing form. He asked the Committee to consider a suspension of 1 day and a fine.

Mr Williams requested that any suspension begin as soon as possible.

Reasons for Penalty:

[11] The JCA Penalty Guide provides a 10-drive suspension or a $500 fine for a breach of this Rule. This Committee assessed this breach as mid-range in both carelessness and consequences. We determined that this breach be dealt with by way of suspension only, as is standard for careless driving charges where interference has taken place. The starting point of a 10-drive suspension is adopted with the aggravating factors, as above, warranting an uplift which we set at 2 drives. We were however able to afford Mr Williams a combined discount for the mitigating factors as above. We set this discount at 2 drives.

[12] We therefore determined that a 10-drive suspension is an appropriate penalty in this case.

[13] Mr Williams, we assessed has on average, 5 drives per meeting, and we therefore determined that a 2-day suspension was appropriate in this case. Mr Williams may have an increase in opportunity for drives going forward, but that is an unknown factor for this Committee to consider, so we must therefore use historical data to calculate a fair but meaningful penalty.

[14] Accordingly, Mr Williams is suspended from the conclusion of racing on 26 July, after the NZMTC meeting-fields already drawn, up to and including 30 July 2020. Relevant meetings encompassed in this period of suspension are Auckland Harness on 29 July and Invercargill on 30 July 2020.

S Ching

(Chair)

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