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Oamaru HRC 29 July 2018 - R 6 - Chair, Prof G Hall

Created on 31 July 2018

GHall (chair)
Mr R Houghton - Open Horseman
Mr S Renault - Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
Excessive use of the whip

Mr Renault, Stipendiary Steward, alleged that Mr Houghton used his whip on more occasions than permitted in clause (b) of the Use of the Whip Regulations on his drive THE LAST STRAW in race 6, the PG WRIGHTSON STANDARDBRED MOBILE PACE.

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 the Whip Regulations 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 demonstrated the alleged breach on the videos. He pointed out that Mr Houghton had used his whip 16 times in the last 400 metres. These strikes were continuous until the 100 metres when Mr Houghton had pushed the whip through the tail.

Mr Houghton said he liked to hit the shaft of the sulky and this made it look worse than it was. The first 2 or 3 strikes, he said, were to the shaft. He thought he was close to 10 at the 100 metres and that was why he had stopped using the whip. It was the first time the horse had worn pull down blinds and the horse had knocked off once he pulled the blinds about 150 to 200 metres out.


As Mr Houghton has admitted the breach, it is found to be proved.

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Renault produced the respondent’s record. Mr Houghton has had 19 drives this season, and 90 last season. Mr Houghton was previously in breach of this rule at Rangiora on 22 August last, when he was fined $500. The number of strikes on that occasion was 17. Mr Renault submitted a 4 to 5 day suspension was appropriate.

Mr Houghton has sought a deferment until after Forbury Park.

Reasons For Penalty:

The penalty is determined by a sliding scale. Where the number of strikes is 14 to 16 and it is a second offence, it is a 3 to 5 day suspension. The count for Mr Houghton is 16. He agrees that this is the number. An aggravating factor is the rapidity of the further breach of the whip rule, with this being only the respondent’s second drive since his previous breach. We uplift a 3 day starting point by 1 day for this factor. The breach is mid-range and we make no further adjustment.


Mr Houghton is suspended from the end of the Forbury Park meeting on Sunday 5 August up to and including 23 August. This is 4 Otago / Canterbury days. Mr Houghton agreed he did not drive south of Dunedin. Mr Houghton was reminded of his professional obligations.

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