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Wellington RC 18 March 2017 - R 8 (heard 22 March 2017 at Pukekohe) - Chair, Mr A Dooley



Informant: Mr M Williamson - Stipendiary Steward

Respondent: Mrs T Thornton - Licensed Rider

Information No: A8532

Rule: 638(3)(b)(ii)

Meeting: Wellington Racing Club

Date: 18 March 2017 (heard 22 March 2017 at Pukekohe)

Race No: 8

Judicial Committee: Mr A Dooley, Chair

Charge: Excessive use of whip

Plea: Admitted


This was an adjourned hearing held at Counties racecourse on 22 March as a result of a charge filed against Mrs T Thornton following the running of race 8, the Wellfield New Zealand Oaks (Group 1) at the Wellington Racing Club meeting on 18 March 2017.

An Information was filed pursuant to Rule 638 (3)(b)(ii). The Informant, Mr Williamson, alleged that Mrs Thornton used the whip excessively prior to the 200 metres on her mount VENCEDORA.

Mrs Thornton acknowledged that she understood the Rule and confirmed her admission of the breach.

Rule 638(3)(b)(ii) provides: A Rider shall not:

(ii) strike a horse with a whip in a manner or to an extent which is excessive

The Guidelines for Use of Whip provide:

Once a horse enters the final straight it can be hit with the drawn whip up to six times and then the rider should ride hands and heels for six strides before hitting the horse again with the drawn whip and continue this action until the 200 metres.

Mr Williamson demonstrated the incident using the available video footage. He identified Mrs Thornton and showed that she struck her mount 10 times from the 400 metres until the 200 metres. He noted that there was some respite with the drawn whip but not for the required 6 strides.

Mrs Thornton acknowledged that she struck her mount 10 times prior to the 200 metres and had nothing to add.


As Mrs Thornton admitted the breach the Committee found the charge proved.

Submissions For Penalty

Mr Williamson produced Mrs Thornton’s record which showed 1 previous breach on 18/9/2016 that incurred a $300 fine. He said this breach was at the low end of the scale and submitted a $300 fine would be appropriate.

In answer to a question from the Committee, Mr Williamson said that he did not believe an increase in penalty was necessary even taking into account the status of the race.

The Committee informed Mrs Thornton that the Penalty Guide for Judicial Committees recommends a starting point of a $500 fine or a 2 day suspension.

Mrs Thornton advised that she would prefer a 2 day suspension rather than a fine. She said that she had engagements at Tauranga on 25 March and any proposed suspension could start after that date.

The Committee asked Mrs Thornton if she had a recent history of riding on industry days in the Central Districts. Both she and Mr Williamson provided several examples where she had done so therefore her suspension was calculated with all North Island days included.

Reasons For Penalty

The Committee carefully considered all the evidence and submissions presented. The Committee adopted the Penalty Guide for Judicial Committees which recommends a starting point of a $500 fine or a 2 day suspension.

For the purpose of penalty the Committee notes that it was 6 months since Mrs Thornton breached this Rule. In accordance with the Penalty Guide Mrs Thornton’s record was reset on the 18th of March.

The mitigating factors were Mrs Thornton’s admission of the breach and the number of strikes were towards the low end.

The Committee assess the severity of strikes was mid – range and observed that the frequency of strikes were not continuous and there were some pauses.

The Committee note that Mrs Thornton’s mount finished in 6th placing.

The significant aggravating fact as per Rule 920(2) was this breach occurred in a Group 1 race with stakes payable of $300,000.

After taking into account all the above factors and having regard for Mrs Thornton’s penalty submission a 2 day suspension was imposed.


The Committee grant Mrs Thornton’s request to seek a deferment to her suspension as per Rule 1106(2).

Accordingly, Mrs Thornton had her license to ride in races suspended for a period to commence after racing on 25 March and conclude after racing on 29 March 2017 (2 days).

That period of suspension encompasses meetings at

26 March – Tauherenikau – (Tier 2 Feature)

29 March - Matamata

In conclusion the Committee advised Mrs Thornton with respect to excessive use of the whip where the rider is a repeat offender, a separate starting point is recommended for a 2nd plus breach (within a period of 6 months) of a 3 – 5 riding day suspension.

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