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NZ Metropolitan TC 7 September 2018 - R 2 - Chair, Mr R McKenzie

Created on 10 September 2018

Rules:
869(3)(b)
Committee:
RMcKenzie (chair)
SChing
Name(s):
Mr CJ DeFilippi - Licensed Open Horseman
Mr LD McCormick - Licensed Open Horseman
Informant
Mr NM Ydgren - Chief Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
A09987
Plea:
Denied
Charge:
Careless Driving
Evidence:

Following the running of Race 2, Darfield ITM Mobile Trot, an Information was filed by Chief Stipendiary Steward, Mr NM Ydgren, against Licensed Open Driver, Mr CJ De Filippi alleging that Mr DeFilippi, as the driver of LONE STAR LAD in the race, “drove carelessly near the 180 metres when shifting inwards checking SUGAR CANE (LD McCormick) which broke”.

Mr DeFilippi was present at the hearing of the information. He confirmed that he understood the Rule and the charge and he indicated that he denied the breach.

Rule 869 provides as follows:
(3) No horseman in any race shall drive:-
     (b) carelessly.

Submission For Decision:

Mr Ydgren showed video replays of the incident from the three available camera angles. He pointed out the runners concerned, the last two horses on the markers as the field approached the home turn. SUGAR CANE was on the markers and LONE STAR LAD was to its outside.

Mr Ydgren said that it was being alleged by the Stewards that, racing in the straight, Mr DeFilippi has looked to shift ground inwards. However, in doing so, he has shifted abruptly and has made contact with Mr McCormick’s horse, which has then galloped. He pointed out Mr DeFilippi improve up onto the back of STAR PRIDE (MP Edmonds) and then shift inwards to continue to improve. However, by that time, Mr McCormick was established to his inside. Mr McCormick’s horse was “dictated down quite abruptly”, was checked and galloped.

Mr McCormick said that he was taking a gap and, as he did so, it got tight from the outside and his line was taken. Mr DeFilippi’s runner, LONE STAR LAD, was the horse outside him, he said. Mr McCormick said that, just prior to the incident, his horse had “run out just slightly” or “a touch” but he did not believe that it had contributed significantly to the incident. Mr McCormick was shown the head-on video replay. At the point of interference, Mr McCormick said, he was up inside Mr DeFilippi’s runner and progressing forward and Mr DeFilippi’s sulky wheel made contact with his horse’s leg, resulting in it breaking. Mr DeFilippi’s horse did shift in “reasonably quickly/abruptly”. He had been reluctant to follow that horse earlier because it was not trotting all that well.

In response to a question from Mr DeFilippi, Mr McCormick said that his horse had lost “quite a bit” of ground, 50 or 60 metres he said, at the start of the race. It was unlikely to have run into a stakes-bearing placing, Mr McCormick said. He confirmed that he had struck his horse twice just prior to the interference and had both reins in one hand when doing so.

Mr DeFilippi said that he admitted that, when he shifted down which he did “a wee bit quick” he admitted, and quicker that he had intended, Mr McCormick had both reins in one hand and could not react quickly enough to get out of the way. Mr DeFilippi also submitted that, just prior to the interference, Mr McCormick’s horse had shifted out half a cart, which had contributed to the incident.

In response, Mr McCormick responded that he was attempting to get onto the back of RACHMANINOV (TJ Grant), which was one of the runners travelling quite well and was the one to follow.

Mr Ydgren submitted that Mr DeFilippi’s shift had been a “sudden and abrupt one” and he had not given Mr McCormick sufficient time to react.

Mr DeFilippi said that the incident appeared worse because it was the back leg of Mr McCormick’s horse that had gone under his wheel. This was the result of that horse “spreading itself”, Mr DeFilippi submitted. 

Reasons For Decision:

The Committee had listened carefully to the evidence of both parties and had carefully viewed the various video replays of the incident in which SUGAR CANE galloped with 180 metres to run. We see the matter as being quite a simple one.

Mr McCormick, regardless of how well his horse was travelling at the time, was entitled to his line of running. Mr DeFilippi submitted that Mr McCormick had shifted out half a cart width which had contributed to the incident. We do not accept this. Mr McCormick explained that he had angled out to attempt to get on the back of RACHMANINOV which, in his judgment, was giving his runner the best opportunity to improve. Mr McCormick was entitled to take this action and would be expected to do so and, in any event, at the time there was still enough room to his outside.

By his own admission, Mr DeFilippi had shifted down the track looking for a run. Further, he admitted, that move was “a wee bit quick” and quicker than he had intended. The move was made when Mr McCormick’s runner was clearly established to his inside and, interestingly, it was Mr DeFilippi’s evidence that his sulky wheel contacted the off-hind leg of SUGAR CANE. Mr DeFilippi submitted that Mr McCormick had an obligation to make room for him but was unable to do so because he had the reins in one hand and was urging his runner with the whip and therefore was unable to react. There is no merit in that submission.

The Committee attached no relevance to Mr DeFilippi’s evidence that SUGAR CANE had lost considerable ground at the start and we were rather surprised that he should consider this relevant. SUGAR CANE, at the point of interference, was still competitive and entitled to its rightful line of running, which was denied it when Mr DeFilippi shifted down abruptly. It does not assist Mr DeFilippi to suggest that SUGAR CANE was not going to finish in a stakes-bearing placing, whether or not this was the case.

The Committee is clearly satisfied that, in abruptly shifting his runner inwards with approximately 180 metres to run, and contacting the leg of SUGAR CANE causing that horse to break, Mr DeFilippi drove carelessly.

Decision:

The charge was found proved.

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Ydgren referred to the Penalty Guide which suggested a starting point for penalty for a breach of the Rule of a fine of $500 or 10 drives. Stewards were seeking suspension in cases where a driver has shifted ground and caused interference, Mr Ydgren said.

Mr Ydgren said that Mr DeFilippi would usually have approximately five drives per meeting, notwithstanding that he had only two at tonight’s meeting.

Mr Ydgren submitted that the starting point should be uplifted to a 3-days’ suspension. However, looking at Mr DeFilippi’s record, last season he had 288 drives and, in the 2016/2017 season, had 335 drives. So far this season, he has had only seven drives. Mr De Filippi has no record of breaching the careless driving Rule during that time, which constituted an excellent record. He should receive credit for that. The breach was mid-range, Mr Ydgren submitted.

Mr DeFilippi submitted that he had not affected the chances of Mr McCormick’s horse. He admitted that, while he was entitled to push Mr McCormick down, he had come down too quick.

Mr De Filippi requested a deferment of any suspension until after racing on Friday, 14 September. 

Reasons For Penalty:

In deciding penalty, the Committee took the Penalty Guide starting point of a 10-drives’ suspension. A suspension was appropriate for this breach. We accepted Mr Ydgren’s submission that, in Mr DeFilippi’s case, that was equivalent to a 2-days’ suspension. The Committee saw the breach as being in the mid-to-high range and we therefore uplifted the starting point to 3 days.

Mr DeFilippi’s record, which the Committee accepted was excellent, was a compelling mitigating factor for which we have allowed a discount of one day.

Penalty:

Mr DeFilippi’s application for a deferment of suspension was granted. Mr DeFilippi’s Open Horseman’s licence is suspended from after the close of racing on 14 September 2018 up to and including 20 September 2018 - 2 days.

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