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Levin RC 25 July 2015 - R 7 - Chair, Mr P Williams

Created on 27 July 2015

Rules:
638(3)(b)(ii)
Committee:
PWilliams (chair)
NMcCutcheon
Name(s):
Mr L Magorrian - Apprentice Jockey
Mr G Barlow - Stable representative of the Rogerson Training Partnership
Informant
Mr N Goodwin - Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
A2739
Plea:
Admitted
Charge:
Excessive Use of the Whip
Evidence:

Following the running of Race 7 the Listed “Courtesy Ford Ryder Stakes” Information A2739 was filed by Stipendiary Steward Mr N Goodwin under rule 638(3)(b)(ii). The Information stated “Mr Magorrian used his whip in an excessive manner prior to the 200m mark on “Lucky Edie”. Mr Magorrian signed the Information admitting the breach and at the beginning of the hearing confirmed that was correct and also that he understood the Rule under which he was charged. He was assisted during the hearing by the stable representative for the Rogerson training partnership (the trainers of “Lucky Edie”) and former Licensed Trainer Mr G Barlow.

Rule 638(3)(b)(ii) states “A rider shall not strike a horse with a whip in a manner or to an extent which is excessive."

Submission For Decision:

Mr Goodwin showed the side-on and rear view films of the incident from prior to straightening up for the run home. He identified Mr Magorrian running adjacent to the rail and just behind the leaders. Mr Goodwin said that from prior to straightening up for the run home to the 200m mark Mr Magorrian struck “Lucky Edie” 16 times without the required respite. He said he was sure Mr Magorrian was aware of the use of the whip guidelines i.e. the 6 on/6 off requirement, at which point Mr Magorrian confirmed he was.

To a question from the Committee on the severity of the strikes Mr Goodwin said Mr Magorrian had been “quite excessive” in the use of his whip in as he got closer to the 200m but added that the reason for the charge being brought was the excessive number of strikes by Mr Magorrian prior to the 200m mark.

Mr Magorrian said he was only an Apprentice and just learning how to use the whip and in this case he was just “flicking it around” and the strikes were not severe. He agreed with Mr Goodwin that he had struck his horse 16 times from a point prior to straightening up through to the 200m mark.

Mr Barlow asked for the films to be replayed. He said he agreed with Mr Goodwin’s interpretation of the film in that “Lucky Edie” was struck with the whip 16 times prior to the 200m mark. To a question from the Committee he said he agreed with Mr Goodwin that the final few strikes were more excessive and harder than the earlier strikes.

Mr Magorrian seemed amused at Mr Barlow’s comments and when asked by the Committee what was funny he said that he couldn’t see how it was that he could be seen to be hitting the horse hard. Mr Barlow’s immediate response was – “watch the film”. Mr Magorrian added that he was only an Apprentice and did not hit his horse as strongly as a senior jockey would.

Decision:
As Mr Magorrian admitted the breach the charge was found proved.
Submission For Penalty:

Mr Goodwin said Mr Magorrian had 4 previous breaches of this Rule this season as follows:-

2 May 2015, Te Rapa, suspended for 5 days
24 January 2015, Wellington, suspended for 3 days and fined $600
11 December 2014, Hawkes Bay, suspended for 3 days
6 September 2014, Ellerslie, suspended for 3 days.

He added that during the current season Mr Magorrian had also been warned on several occasions about his use of the whip.

Mr Goodwin said Mr Magorrian’s record under this Rule was appalling. He said contrary to the claims of Mr Magorrian the Stewards did not agree that he was flicking his horse with the whip but, as the film showed, he was clearly using it in an excessive manner. He said the Stewards believed Mr Magorrian was cognizant of the fact that he was riding in a Listed Race worth $50,000 and fully aware of what he was doing in striking the horse the number of times that he did.

Mr Goodwin submitted that a suspension and substantial fine was an appropriate penalty as it would possibly be the only way Mr Magorrian was going to stop breaching this Rule.

Mr Magorrian said that were gaps between the recent charges for breaching this Rule and he had been improving. He said he thought some of the previous charges were borderline with the number of strikes on those occasions being lower than today. He said if he was going to get a big suspension he did not think an additional fine should be imposed.

To a question from the Committee Mr Magorrian agreed that, whilst prior to today he had breached this Rule 4 times in the past 12 months, in the two months prior to early July 2014 he had breached the Rule a further 4 times. It was pointed out to Mr Magorrian that the JCA’s Penalty Guidelines state that a reset period of 6 months is applied which meant that breaches of this Rule in the previous 6 months would be considered when determining our penalty. However, Mr Magorrian was also told that the Committee also had the discretion to consider any other matters when determining what an appropriate penalty was.

Mr Barlow said it was clear Mr Magorrian had a problem regarding his use of the whip and had had so for some time. He said it was clear that the final 5-6 strikes were very severe although the earlier strikes were not that bad.

Reasons For Penalty:

The Committee has reviewed the films of the race from prior to straightening up for the run home through the 200m mark and taken into account the submissions of all parties.

The only mitigating factor that can be considered by the Committee is that Mr Magorrian admitted the breach of the Rule. There are, however, several aggravating factors that must be considered.

It is not in dispute that Mr Magorrian struck his horse 16 times prior to the 200m mark. The Committee notes that whilst Mr Magorrian was charged with excessive use of the whip there were some momentary pauses early on in the count but also the last 5 to 6 strikes were very severe. The Committee notes that it is an accepted fact that animal welfare issues have become a significant and on-going issue for the racing industry and it is important that all participants remain sensitive to the perception many members of the public have about the use of the whip in racing.

The Committee notes that the Race was a Listed Race for 2 year olds worth $50,000 and that Mr Magorrian’s mount “Lucky Edie” finished 4th earning $2,500 in stake money. The Committee believes that it can be said that, through his excessive use of the whip, Mr Magorrian’s mount had an unfair advantage over other horses whose riders rode within the use of the whip guidelines.

Today’s breach of this Rule is Mr Magorrian’s third in the past 6 months. However, it is also his fifth breach of this Rule in the 2014/2015 season and his ninth breach of this Rule since 12 May 2014. Whilst the Committee is fully aware of the JCA’s Penalty Guidelines which state that a reset period of 6 months is to be applied for breaches of this Rule, we believe on this occasion given the appalling record of Mr Magorrian (as described by Mr Goodwin and agreed with by this Committee) that we are entitled to consider his wider record. Our justification for this is that, despite all the breaches and the associated penalties he has been given, as well as the additional number of warnings regarding his use of the whip he acknowledged he has received over the past months, he continues to show a blatant disregard for the use of whip guidelines (the 6 on/6 off requirement up to the 200m mark) – guidelines that he confirmed during the hearing he was aware of. Put simply the Committee believes he is a serial repeat offender.

Mr Magorrian emphasized during the hearing that he was just an Apprentice and still learning how to use the whip. He said he believed that today he had only flicked his horse. The Committee does not accept that view and we note that neither Mr Goodwin nor Mr Barlow did either. The Committee believes the films of today’s incident show that Mr Magorrian is a very accomplished user of the whip which is to be expected given he has had over 620 rides so far this season.

The Committee is aware that Mr Magorrian made the same comment about “flicking” when he was charged with his last breach of this Rule on 2 May 2015. Further, in the written decision relating to that hearing it was stated that Mr Harris the Northern Districts Apprentice Jockey Mentor was trying to help Mr Magorrian improve his whip action and also that Mr Tiley, an experienced trainer, and senior rider Mr Du Plessis were providing additional coaching for Mr Magorrian. It is therefore very disappointing that, despite receiving all this help from three very experienced members of the industry, Mr Magorrian continues to breach this Rule.

It is clear to the Committee that previous penalties imposed on Mr Magorrian for breaches of this Rule have had no impact whatsoever on the way he uses his whip. The Committee believes the penalty given today must reflect the seriousness of today’s offence and be of sufficient magnitude to deter Mr Magorrian from using his whip in such an excessive manner in the future. It is quite clear that unless Mr Magorrian immediately recognizes that his use of the whip prior to the 200m must be within the guidelines he will continue to be charged with breaches of this Rule.

The Committee notes that Mr Magorrian will commence a 6 day suspension from the close of racing today until the close of racing on Thursday 6 August 2015 following his recent unsuccessful appeal against his sixth careless riding charge this season.

The Committee has deliberated for some time before deciding on an appropriate penalty. The penalty given must act as a significant deterrent to Mr Magorrian in particular, as well as all other jockeys, and send a clear message that breaches of this Rule will result in a significant penalty.

We have taken as a starting point for a third breach of this Rule within the last six months a two week suspension. We believe that the admittance of the breach does not warrant any lowering of that starting point. However, we believe that the aggravating factors detailed above justify a significant increase in the two week penalty and that a monetary penalty should also be imposed.

Penalty:

The Committee believes on this occasion a suspension and a fine is an appropriate penalty. Mr Magorrian is suspended for 3 weeks from Friday 07 August 2015 to Thursday 27 August 2105 inclusive. Mr Magorrian is also fined the sum of $1,000.

When delivering the penalty Mr Magorrian asked how many riding days were included in the period of suspension. He was advised it was 12 North Island riding days but that the suspension portion of the penalty would be described as 3 weeks.

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