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NZ Metro TC 29 November 2019 - R 7 - Chair, Mr R McKenzie

Created on 03 December 2019

Committee:
RMcKenzie (chair)
OJarvis
Name(s):
R J Butt
Licensed Open Driver
Informant
S P Renault
Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
A9035
Plea:
Admitted
Charge:
Contravention of the Use of the Whip Regulations
Evidence:

Following the running of Race 7, McMillan Equine Feeds Sires’ Stakes Series No.36 (Silver) Mobile Pace, an information was filed by Stipendiary Steward, Mr S P Renault, against Licensed Open Driver, Mr R J Butt, alleging that Mr Butt, as the driver of BELMONT MAJOR in the race, “used his whip on more occasions than allowed in the last 400 metres under the Use of the Whip Regulations”.

Mr Butt had signed the Statement by the Respondent on the information form indicating that he admitted the charge. He confirmed this at the hearing, at which he was present.

Rule 869 provides as follows:

(2) No horseman shall during any race use a whip in a manner in contravention of the Use of the Whip Regulations made by the Board.

The Use of Whip Regulations (effective from 30 November 2017) provide:

(b) No horseman is permitted to use their whip in a striking motion on more than ten occasions inside the final 400 metres. This is inclusive of “backhanders” and the use applies to the horse, harness and/or sulky.

Mr Renault showed a video replay of the final 400 metres of the race. He pointed out BELMONT MAJOR, driven by Mr Butt, racing outside the leader, SKIPPY’S DELIGHT, as the field passed the 400 metres. Mr Renault initially alleged that Mr Butt had used his whip 18 times from the 400 metres, but conceded that the first two may not have been strikes but, rather, flicks. The video replay was viewed and discussed several times.

Mr Butt told the Committee that he did not accept that the first two were strikes, but accepted the count of 16. He said that there was nothing else he could say, as the matter was quite clear. The Committee was satisfied that the count of 16 had been established. This put the breach in the mid-range, Mr Renault said. 

Decision:

Mr Butt having admitted the breach, the charge was found proved.

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Butt has had 60 drives to date this season, Mr Renault said. Last season, he had 160 drives. He has a previous breach – on 6 September 2019 at NZ Metropolitan TC, suspended 3 days (49 drives ago). Mr Renault referred to the Penalty Guide starting point of a 3-5 days suspension for a second breach. This was a clear mid-range breach, Mr Renault submitted, for which a 4-days suspension would be appropriate.

Mr Butt asked the Committee to consider a combined penalty of a suspension coupled with a fine.

Reasons For Penalty:

The Committee was of the view that a straight suspension was the appropriate penalty. The appropriate starting point is a 4-days suspension which takes into account the number of strikes (mid-range) and the aggravating factor that Mr Butt won the race. The only mitigating factor was Mr Butt’s admission of the breach but this does not warrant any discount from the starting point.

Penalty:

Mr Butt’s Open Driver’s Licence is suspended from after the close of racing on 1 December 2019 up to and including 13 December 2019 – 4 days. The meetings intended to be encompassed by the period of suspension are NZ Metropolitan TC (7 December), Methven TC (8 December), NZ Metropolitan TC (13 December) and Akaroa TC (15 December).

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