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13 Jun 2021
Nz-Metro-Tc - R3

NZ Metropolitan TC 13 June 2021 - R 3 - Chair, Mr R McKenzie

Created on 14 June 2021

Committee:
RMcKenzie (chair)
Name(s):
Mr WD O'Connell - Licensed Graduation Driver
Informant
Mr P Williams - Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
A13664
Plea:
Admitted
Charge:
Contravention of the Use of Whip Regulations
Evidence:

Following the running of Race 3, Nevele R Stud “Young at Heart” Mobile Pace, an Information was filed by Stipendiary Steward, Mr P Williams, against Licensed Graduation Driver, Mr WD O’Connell, alleging that, as the driver of ALEXY in the race, he “used his whip free of the rein throughout the home straight”.

Mr O’Connell had signed the Statement by the Respondent on the Information form indicating that he admitted the breach. He confirmed this at the hearing at which he was present.

The Whip and Rein Regulations provide as follows:

3.1 A driver may only apply the whip in a wrist only flicking motion whilst holding a rein in each hand with the tip of the whip pointed forward in an action which does not engage the shoulder.
3.3 A driver shall not use a whip in an unapproved manner.
3.4 For the purposes of Clause 3.3 a driver shall be deemed to have used the whip in an unapproved manner in the following circumstances which are not exclusive:
3.4.1 If the whip is applied other than as permitted in clause 3.1.

Mr Williams showed a video replay of the final 300 metres of the race. He pointed out Mr O’Connell, driving ALEXY, racing near the rear of the field and one-off the markers as the field neared the home turn. Shortly after entering the home straight, Mr O’Connell put the reins in his left hand and commenced using the whip in his right hand and free of the rein. This continued to the finishing line, a clear breach of the Rules, Mr Williams said.

When asked by the Committee, Mr Williams described Mr O’Connell’s whip action as continuous but “nowhere near severe” and this was a mitigating factor, Mr Williams said.

Mr O’Connell said that he was not aware that he was hitting the horse free of the rein but he accepted that it was clear from the video replay. He said that when he went to use the whip, it became entangled in the cord for the removable deafeners.

Decision:

Mr O’Connell having admitted the breach, it was found proved.

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Williams described Mr O’Connell as an “infrequent driver”. He has had 12 drives this season, Mr Williams said, and 33 last season. He had been spoken to by Stewards regarding his whip use in two of his three most recent drives. Stewards were seeking a suspension of not less than 3 days, Mr Williams said. Stewards regarded the breach as being high-level, he said.

Mr O’Connell asked if he could be fined rather than suspended. The hearing then looked at upcoming meetings at which Mr O’Connell would be likely to drive. Mr O’Connell confirmed that it was his intention to drive at the meetings discussed. However, he wished any term of suspension to commence immediately.

Reasons For Penalty:

The HRNZ Whip Penalty Guide (effective 1 October 2020) provides as follows:
For a high-level breach, the start point will be a period of suspension (3 days). High-level offending is defined as when a driver shows a total disregard for the requirements of the Regulation and makes no effort to return to a compliant style of driving.

The Committee is satisfied that Mr O’Connell’s whip use was high-level in terms of the Penalty Guide in that, while the strikes were not forceful, they were clearly free of the reins and they continued with little or no breaks for most of the length of the straight.

The Penalty Guide does not contemplate a fine for a high-level breach. The starting point is a 3-day suspension. There are no aggravating factors and no relevant mitigating factors.

Penalty:

Mr O’Connell’s Graduation Driver’s licence is suspended from after the conclusion of racing on 13 June 2012 up to and including 24 June 2021 – 3 days. The three meetings intended to be encompassed by the period of suspension are the meetings of NZ Metropolitan TC on 17 and 20 June and Forbury Park TC on 24 June.

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