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Whangarei RC 1 September 2018 - R 5 - Chair, Mr A Dooley

Created on 03 September 2018

ADooley (chair)
Mr D Danis - Apprentice Rider of WATCH THIS SPACE
Mr W Hillis - Trainer assisting Mr Danis
Ms k Cowan - Apprentice Rider of EXCELLARTION
Mr J Nason - Rider of SPIDER
Mr A Coles - Stipendiary Steward
Mr M Williamson - Senior Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
Careless Riding

Following the running of race 5, Harcourts Whangarei, an Information was filed pursuant to Rule 638(1)(d). The Informant, Senior Stipendiary Steward, Mr Williamson, alleged that Mr Danis allowed WATCH THIS SPACE to shift in when not clear off EXCELLERATION (K Cowan) dictating that runner in onto SPIDER (J Nason) which was hampered and checked near the 900 metres.

Rule 638(1) (d) provides: A Rider shall not ride a horse in a manner which the Judicial Committee considers to be careless.

Mr Danis denied the breach and acknowledged that he understood the Rule and the nature of the charge.

Mr W Hillis assisted his employee Apprentice Rider, Mr D Danis at the hearing.

Submission For Decision:

Mr Williamson advised the Committee that he would be calling 3 witnesses namely, Mr A Coles, Stipendiary Steward, Mr J Nason, the rider of SPIDER and Ms K Cowan, the rider of EXCELLERATION.

Mr Coles demonstrated the alleged incident using the head on and side on video films. He started out by identifying the 3 horses involved in the incident. He showed that at a point passing the 1000 metres Ms Cowan placed Mr Nason in restricted room against the running rail when there was no inward pressure from Mr Danis. He then rolled the films on and said that Mr Danis commenced to slowly shift in and pointed out that there was room for Mr Nason on the inside, although he was racing in restricted room. He said that when Mr Nason was starting to check his mount, Ms Cowan was almost on the running rail. He said when Mr Danis commenced to shift in there was insufficient room for 2 horses to his inside and Ms Cowan was unable to relieve the pressure. He noted there was always a clear gap between EXCELLERATION and WATCH THIS SPACE. He said at the 900 metres Mr Danis heard a call, he had a look to his inside and took corrective action but it was too late. He said at the time of the shift Mr Danis was 1 length clear of Ms Cowan. In conclusion he said that Ms Cowan did not read the situation as well as she could have, but there wasn’t enough room for her to relieve the pressure.

Mr Williamson called Mr Nason, the rider of SPIDER, as a witness. Mr Nason said that he got inside Ms Cowan’s mount by half a length and she came over the top of him. He said the interference that he suffered came from Ms Cowan and he gave a shout out to her, but she thought the pressure was coming from GOBSTOPPER ridden by Ms Thornton. Mr Nason added that he could see what was happening ahead of him and he did not believe that Mr Danis dictated Ms Cowan’s running line.

Mr Williamson then called Ms Cowan, the rider of EXCELLERATION, as a witness. Ms Cowan said that she received a little bit of pressure from her outside and it stopped her from moving out. She said that she heard a call which she thought was from her outside but recognised later that it was actually Mr Nason calling out to her because he was racing in restricted room.

In response to a question from the Committee, Ms Cowan said that Mr Danis was not dictating her in, but there was enough pressure from her outside that she could not move out.

In response to a question from Mr Hillis, Ms Cowan said that she did not call out to Mr Danis. Ms Cowan added that she thought it was Ms Thornton that was calling out and she accepted that it was Mr Nason who was racing to her inside.

Mr Danis said that he did not want to be racing in a 3 wide position so he looked to his inside and commenced to move forward. He said when he commenced to shift in he heard a man’s voice shouting out and when he looked in he thought he was clear of Ms Cowan’s mount. He said as he began to shift in, Ms Cowan shifted in at the same time. He said he was not aware that there was a horse racing on the inside of Ms Cowan. He said that Ms Cowan rolled in and his natural instinct was to roll in as well. He said that Ms Cowan didn’t push forward and she let him go ahead of her. He reiterated that Ms Cowan never called out to him and he thought he was clear of Ms Cowan.

In response to a question from the Committee, Mr Hillis confirmed the expectation is that if a rider is receiving pressure from another rider they would generally call out.

Mr Hillis placed his interpretation of the incident using the video films. He said that Ms Cowan was heading towards the running rail when Mr Danis was still racing in a 3 wide position. He said the interference to SPIDER occurred when Ms Cowan shifted in and before Mr Danis allowed his mount to shift in. He highlighted that there was always a clear gap between EXCELLERATION and WATCH THIS SPACE. He said he did not believe that Mr Danis dictated Ms Cowan inward. He said the side on film is a bad angle because it shows the horses from behind and not side on. In conclusion he stated that Ms Cowan didn’t have any idea that she was “squeezing” SPIDER on the inside because she thought the call was from her outside.

In summing up Mr Williamson said that any opinion is always subjective whether that of a Jockey or a Steward. He said the facts are there is a requirement under the Rules of Racing that a ride must be his own length and another length clear when shifting ground. He said there is clear evidence from Mr Coles that Mr Danis was not clear to shift ground near the 900 metres. He said Mr Nason established that he received pressure from Ms Cowan‘s mount on his outside when he was racing half a length inferior to her. He said it was not disputed that Ms Cowan had received pressure from her outside. He said that WATCH THIS SPACE raced in a 3 wide position although it is accepted that SPIDER was racing in restricted room there was no interference prior to the 900 metres. He said it was not until WATCH THIS SPACE shifts in to a 1 off position that SPIDER received interference. He said when Mr Danis realised there were 2 horses to his inside he tried to relieve that pressure. He stated it should be taken into account that the inexperience of Ms Cowan has not helped the situation and all parties accept this fact. However, he said that Mr Danis has not discharged his duties and stayed in a 3 wide position.

In summing up Mr Danis said that he ended up in this position due to Ms Cowan’s inexperience. He said that it could have been avoided and Mr Hillis added that there were some mitigating circumstances in the incident.

Reasons For Decision:

The Committee carefully considered all of the evidence and reviewed the video films of the alleged incident at normal speed and also frame by frame. The head on film and side on film were synchronised.

The Committee found that the first horse to shift was EXCELLERATION when it shifted in passing the 1000 metres. Ms Cowan corrected the inward shift which placed SPIDER in restricted room and on the brink of being checked. It was observed that shortly afterwards Mr Danis who was racing in a 3 wide position, looked to his inside a few times as he commenced to shift in. Mr Danis’ manoeuvre was gradual and there was always a reasonable gap between his mount WATCH THIS SPACE and EXCELLERATION. At the same time as Mr Danis was shifting in Ms Cowan allowed her mount to shift in when she was only half a length ahead of SPIDER. In our view Mr Danis did not dictate Ms Cowan inward, we believe that Ms Cowan shifted in on her own accord and not as a result of being dictated in by Mr Danis. At the point where Mr Nason was checking his mount it was apparent that WATCH THIS SPACE had shifted in only half a horse width and EXCELLERATION had shifted in 1 horse width. In our view the check suffered by SPIDER was a direct consequence of Ms Cowan’s inward shift.

Taking into account all of the circumstances and contributing factors, the Committee found that although WATCH THIS SPACE did shift in slightly, it was not satisfied that Mr Danis was solely responsible for the interference that happened to SPIDER. Furthermore, the Committee was of the opinion that Mr Danis had not breached Rule 638(1)(d).


The charge of careless riding against Mr Danis was dismissed by the Committee.

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