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Nelson HRC 8 January 2021 - R 1 - Chair, Mr S Ching

Created on 10 January 2021

SChing (chair)
Mr R Close - Licensed Open Driver
J Muirhead- Stipendiary Steward
Mr J Muirhead - Senior Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
Careless driving

Following the running of Race 2, the Town & Country Vets Trot, an Information was filed by Stipendiary Steward, Mr J Muirhead, against Open Driver, Mr R Close, alleging a breach of Rule 869(3)(b) in that when driving MUCHACHA BONITA, he drove carelessly racing into the first bend by shifting in when insufficiently clear of FAR MORE ZEALOUS, which was checked.

Mr Close had endorsed the Information that this breach of the Rules was admitted which he confirmed at the hearing. Mr Close also confirmed that he understood the Rule he was being charged with.

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

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

Mr Muirhead gave evidence and used video coverage to show that racing into the first bend approaching the 2000m, Mr Close, driving MUCHACHA BONITA, was racing in a 2-wide position improving forward in an attempt to take the lead from FAR MORE ZEALOUS driven by Mr P Davis, who was racing on the pylons and in the lead position. Mr Muirhead pointed out Mr Close improve forward past Mr Davis but when shifting in to assume the lead was not clear of FAR MORE ZEALOUS whose fore leg struck the sulky wheel of MUCHACHA BONITA, and broke.

Mr Close accepted he had made an error of judgement.


As Mr Close had admitted the breach, the charge was found proved.

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Muirhead stated that the JCA penalty Guide provides a 10-drive suspension as a starting point for a breach of this Rule where interference has occurred. He said that Mr Closes’s record showed a breach on 18 September 2020 at Methven where he received a 3-day suspension. Mr Muirhead added that Mr Close had had 189 drives since that breach, very close to the 200-drive reset. He added that Mr Close averaged 5 drives per race day at relevant meetings and submitted that after taking all factors into consideration, a 2-day suspension be considered as penalty.

Mr Close sought a deferral of penalty until after racing at Invercargill on 13 January.

Reasons For Penalty:

The JCA Penalty Guide provides a 10-drive suspension starting point for a breach of this Rule. The mitigating factor was Mr Close's frank admission of the breach. Against this was the aggravating factor of the interference to FAR MORE ZEALOUS and the fact that the horse’s chances were affected. We accepted that Mr Close would normally drive on average 5 times per relevant meeting. Taking all factors into consideration, we determined that a 2-day suspension was an appropriate penalty in this case.

Mr Closes’ application for a deferment until after racing on 13 January at Invercargill is granted.


Mr Close is suspended from the conclusion of racing 13 January up to and including 17 January 2021. Relevant meetings encompassed in this period of suspension are the meetings at Blenheim on 17 and 19 January 2021.

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