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Manawatu HRC 31 January 2020 - R3 - Chair, Mr T Utikere

Created on 03 February 2020

TUtikere (chair)
Mr J Cowden - Junior Driver
Mr J Abernethy - Open Horseman assisting Mr Cowden
M J Muirhead - Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
Careless Driving

Following the running of Race 3 (Cafe Jacko Mobile Pace 2500m) Information A10284 was filed with the Judicial Committee. It alleged a breach of Rule 869(3)(b), specifically that Junior Driver Mr J Cowden “...drove carelessly near the 300 metres when allowing his gelding to contact the sulky wheel of MOLLY DOOKER (B Mangos).”

Rule 869(3) states: “No horseman in any race shall drive:-...(b) carelessly”.

With the assistance of Senior Horseman Mr J Abernethy, Mr Cowden confirmed that he understood the Rule and that he admitted the breach.

Using the side-on and head-on films, Mr Muirhead identified BENJAMIN BUTTON (J Cowden) towards the rear as the field approached the final bend. He said Mr Cowden was seeking to improve and shifted ground outwards, and in doing so came into contact with MOLLY DOOKER’s wheel. Mr Mangos had looked around post-incident as a result of the contact that was made.

Mr Cowden said he had aimed to improve, but that the films clearly showed that he had made contact.

Mr Abernethy agreed he had hit the wheel but that the horse had travelled strongly, was on the bit, and had made contact with a wheel previously when driven by Mr S Abernethy.


As the charge was admitted, the Committee deemed the charge proved.

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Muirhead initially identified the JCA Penalty Guide starting point of a 10 drives suspension or a $500 fine. He said Mr Cowden had a clear record, was a junior driver with 14 drives this season with previous international drives prior to that. He also said it was disappointing that stewards had previously spoken to him about shifting ground recently. The Committee identified that as the carelessness involved striking a sulky wheel, in fact the correct starting point was a 6 drives suspension or a $300 fine; which Mr Muirhead accepted was the case.

Mr Cowden said he arrived in New Zealand six weeks ago and had more than 100 droves in Ireland prior to his arrival in this country. Mr Abernethy asked the Committee to consider his guilty plea, status as a Junior Driver and sought the imposition of a fine. 

Reasons For Penalty:

When considering a financial penalty, the JCA Penalty Guide identifies a starting point of a $300 fine for this breach, which the Committee considers is appropriate to adopt on this occasion. We accept there are no aggravating features to the breach; Mr Cowden’s movement was slight in nature and as a result he had just touched Mr Mangos’ wheel. We accept upon our review of the films that he was driving a strong horse which was racing heavily on the bit. We place the carelessness at the low-end, and note that any previous warnings given to him by the RIU are irrelevant for the purposes of approaching penalty. In mitigation we consider his early admission, good record and status as a Junior Driver. 


Mr Cowden is fined $200.

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