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Wellington RC 15 March 2014 - R 7

Created on 20 March 2014

NMoffatt (chair)
Mr M Sweeney - Licensed Rider
Mr L Tidmarsh - Stipendiary Steward
Mr R Neal - Chief Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
Careless Riding

Following the running of Race 7, the Group 3 Hiremaster Cuddle Stakes 1400m, an Information was lodged by Mr R Neal alleging a breach of Rule 638(1) (d) in that M Sweeney the rider of NEENA ROCK allowed his mount to shift out into the line of DRAGON BEAUTY which was forced out into the line of ARIETTA which was checked. Also affected was LAUREN TATE.

Rule 638(1) (d), the careless riding rule, was read with Mr Sweeney confirming that he admitted the breach. Mr Tidmarsh outlined the incident using all the available videos.

In the home straight Mr Sweeney, while riding vigorously, drifted outwards into the line of DRAGON BEAUTY when not the required two lengths clear of that runner. As a result Mr Parkes was forced out wider which hampered ARIETTA who received a considerable check. LAUREN TATE was the widest of the four runners and she too suffered interference as a result of ARIETTA making contact. Mr Tidmarsh said Mr Sweeney did make an attempt to straighten his mount but it was too late. Mr Neal said Mr Johnson (ARIETTA) lost all chance in the race as a result of the interference.

Ms Sweeney accepted the facts as outlined by the Stewards.


As Mr Sweeney admitted the breach we found the charge proved.

Submission For Penalty:

In the Stewards’ submissions Mr Neal said Mr Sweeney was a busy rider with an excellent record incurring only one suspension last year. He said on this occasion Mr Sweeney was “all but clear, but not quite” and had simply miscalculated. Mr Neal reminded the committee this was a Group 3 race and in his view a suspension in the vicinity of six days was appropriate.

Mr Sweeney explained to the committee that he thought he was clear of the runners to his outside as his horse was “going away” from the field. He misjudged the situation saying the wind had exaggerated the incident and while he did stop riding it was too late.

Mr Sweeney advised the committee that he had rides on Monday but could begin any suspension after that.

Reasons For Penalty:

In coming to a decision on penalty the committee had regard to all of the submissions. Mr Sweeney was approximately 1 and ¾ lengths clear of DRAGON BEAUTY when he crossed in front of that runner. We accept that this was a misjudgement and Mr Sweeney genuinely thought he was two lengths clear however the side-on film proved otherwise. As a result Mr Parkes was forced outwards impeding the run of ARIETTA who was making a run into a gap between DRAGON BEAUTY and wider out LAUREN TATE. The front shoulder of ARIETTA touched the hindquarters of LAUREN TATE which turned that horse sideways. ARIETTA was badly checked, lost ground and did not feature in the finish. LAUREN TATE ran fourth while Mr Sweeney went on to win the race. We accept that Mr Sweeney did make an attempt to straighten his mount however it was action taken much too late. The committee considered the degree of Mr Sweeney’s carelessness to be in the mid to low range however the consequences were quite severe with three horses being affected to varying degrees.

Adopting a starting point of five days suspension we gave Mr Sweeney credit for his excellent record and his admission of the breach which would effectively reduce any penalty by one day. Aggravating factors however were the Group 3 status of the race and the interference suffered by three horses at a critical stage of the race. It is difficult to say where ARIETTA and LAUREN TATE may have finished if they had received clear runs to the line but the fact remains both were denied that opportunity. Taking into account all of the relevant factors it was the committee’s opinion that a six day suspension was appropriate.


Mr Sweeney is suspended from the close of racing on Monday March 17th up to and including racing on Thursday March 27th. Race days in this period are:

19/3/14 Counties
21/3/14 Waipukurau
22/3/14 Tauranga
23/3/14 Waverley
26/3/14 Avondale
27/3/14 Wanganui

(South Island days were not included)

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