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Wyndham RC 3 February 2019 - R 2 - Chair, Prof G Hall

Created on 08 February 2019

Rules:
868(2)
Committee:
GHall (chair)
MConway
Name(s):
Mr K McNaught - Junior Driver
Mr A Beck - Open Horseman assisting Mr McNaught
Mr M Williamson - Open Driver
Mr S Wallis - Stipendiary Steward
Informant
Mr V Munro - Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
A9804
Plea:
Denied
Charge:
Failed to take all reasonable and permissible measures to give horse full opportunity to win the race or obtain best possible finiishing place
Evidence:

Mr Munro alleged that in race 2 Mr McNaught failed to take all reasonable and permissible measures to gain the best possible placing for THE POWER BROKER by failing to shift down and utilise the passing lane which was presented to him over the concluding stages.

Rule 868(2) reads:
Every horseman shall take all reasonable and permissible measures at all times during the race to ensure that his horse is given full opportunity to win the race or to obtain the best possible position and/or finishing place.

The margins were: nose; 1½; L; ½ L.

Submission For Decision:

Mr Munro asked Mr Wallis, Stipendiary Steward, to demonstrate the incident on the videos. He demonstrated that the respondent was 3 back and racing on the pylons for some 50 metres prior to the passing lane. Soon after entering the straight, he was held up behind Mr N Williamson who was driving the leader STAR DUDE. Some 35 metres from the winning post Mr McNaught made an abrupt inwards movement and took the passing lane. He believed there was a run in the passing lane for Mr McNaught just past the candy pole at the 150 metres mark. He said the gap got bigger all the way down the straight. He thought there was clear room for horse and cart at the 100 metres and by the finishing line there was room for two horses. He said there was no run for Mr McNaught to the outside and it was not till some 30 metres from the line that he moved. He believed this failure to shift inwards earlier for the run affected Mr McNaught’s chances of running third. He emphasised that Mr M Williamson (who was racing to the inside of Mr N Williamson) had not used the passing lane. It was only at the 35 metres mark that Mr McNaught angled the head of his horse inwards to look for a run.

Mr Munro stated that at no stage from the top of the straight had Mr McNaught looked to take an inside run. At this time there were 2 horses to his outside. He believed Mr McNaught should have explored his options for an inside run.

Mr Munro stated that Mr N Williamson had drifted out a little on the track at the start of the passing lane. He accepted that Mr M Williamson had shifted into the passing lane at its commencement and had maintained a straight line at this time. He was the only horse in the passing lane and was not there for long. The Stipendiary Stewards believed that with 130 metres to race there was room in the passing lane for both a horse and a cart. The Stewards thus believed that Mr McNaught had the opportunity to take the inside run for approximately 80 to 90 metres. At the 60 metres mark the Stewards believed there was room for 2 carts. It should have been evident to Mr McNaught that there was no run to the outside and he should have gone looking for a run. He should have not just followed Mr N Williamson. It was both reasonable and permissible to look for a run.

Mr Beck spoke on behalf of Mr McNaught. He said at the top of the straight it was a 50/50 call for Mr McNaught as to whether he should go in or out. He had decided to go out and was waiting for a run to the outside. He said while a run was established to the inside at the 130 metres it would have been hard for Mr McNaught to determine when the gap had opened up. The gap would not have been appearing in front of him because of the angle Mr McNaught was on. Mr McNaught was out 2 horses from where the run was. He said he thought Mr McNaught had “probably left his [move] 20 metres too late before he should have come back for that run, but it is very hard to dictate [sic] where that run is when you are running off the fence”.

Mr Beck emphasised that Mr M Williamson had gone into the passing lane. He thought it was for a couple of strides before Mr N Williamson had run out under pressure. He said Mr McNaught did not know this. He had taken the option to the outside. Horses drift out under pressure and Mr N Williamson could have drifted out and left a gap for Mr McNaught. He reiterated that there was a run at the 130 metres but there had never been a run in the passing lane for Mr McNaught at the top of the straight.

Mr M Williamson was called by Mr Beck to give evidence. He agreed with Mr Beck that when you are out 3 horse widths it is hard to get clear vison of the passing lane. At the top of the straight he went in to go inside Mr N Williamson and he was also inside of him racing up the straight.

Mr Williamson said on viewing the videos there was no run to the inside for Mr McNaught at the top of the straight. He believed a run appeared on his inside at the 130 metres. He thought Mr McNaught would have had to pull back at that point to get the run.

When questioned by the Committee as to what he believed Mr McNaught should have been doing, he replied “He’s probably hoping that Ellie’s going to stop enough that he’s going to pop to the outside. That’s what you’d be thinking.” (This is a reference to Ms Ellie Barron, who was driving TOMMY TIDDLER, the horse parked outside the leader entering the straight.) He added it probably had not helped Mr McNaught that neither he nor Mr N Williamson had gone clear. Had he gone clear of Mr N Williamson then it would have been a simple move for Mr McNaught to have followed him.

Mr Munro questioned Mr Williamson as to whether it is the role of a driver to search for a run for their horse. Mr Williamson responded that it was. He also agreed there was an ever-increasing gap. When questioned as to the gap at the 90 metres, he said it would be hard for Mr McNaught to tell how much room there was from where Mr McNaught was sitting looking in.

Mr Beck continued with his defence of Mr McNaught. He said Mr McNaught was inexperienced. This was his first season of driving.

Mr McNaught confirmed this. He said he was 3 back on the fence. The trailing horse took a run to the inside. He went to go out. He knew Ms Barron had been parked and he thought she was likely to stop and that he would get a run to the outside of Mr N Williamson.

When questioned by the Committee, he said his initial look to his inside was his assessment at the top of the straight. Halfway down the straight, he had a second look. He did not anticipate that the gap was getting bigger, that it was ever-increasing.

When questioned by Mr Munro as to whether he had an obligation to find a run, he said that he did. At the top of the straight the gap to the inside was too small and he could not take it. At the 130 metres he was looking but it was not until the 35 metres that he saw the gap. In response to a question from the Committee, he said he did look between the top of the straight and half way down, but he thought it was a risk to go down and he was expecting a gap on the outside. The gap was quite apparent at the stage he had shifted down.

Summing up

Mr Munro said Mr McNaught had followed Mr N Williamson around the bend and at the top of the straight was looking for a run to Mr Williamson’s outside. (We observe he followed Mr M Williamson around the bend and was left following Mr N Williamson when Mr M Williamson moved to the inside at the top of the passing lane.) He said Mr McNaught had thought that the parked horse would stop and give him a run. He commented, “Mr McNaught had no plan B.” If he had looked to the pylons, he would have seen no one was on the inside and that there was no one coming up from behind. He believed Mr McNaught could and should have checked and gone there to have a look for the run. He questioned why Mr McNaught did not know there was room on the inside until the 35 metres. In his view 100 metres was a long way when there was a clear run and not to utilise it. He believed it was both reasonable and permissible to take the run. He believed Mr McNaught’s actions had cost him third place.

Mr Beck said at the top of the straight there was no room for an inside run. By the 130 metres there was enough room. However, it would be very difficult for Mr McNaught to judge on an angle when he was 3 horse widths out how much room there was on the inside even for a 90-metre distance. He said from that position “you can’t judge width properly”. He added Mr McNaught was on the back of Mr N Williamson and it was a gradual movement from the top of the straight to the winning post that opened up the gap.

Mr McNaught said he did not believe his horse would have “exploded into the gap” with improved speed. He had only made slight ground on the third horse.

Mr Munro responded that the official margin was only ½ a length.

Reasons For Decision:

We have listened to Mr McNaught’s defence that it is difficult to assess a gap to the inside when racing 3 wide. He was looking for an outside run. When that did not eventuate, he should have assessed his options. Mr M Williamson giving evidence stated that it is difficult when racing 3 out to see a gap that is available in the passing lane. Mr Beck, as we have noted, made the same submission in his defence of Mr McNaught. We also note that Mr Beck stated that he believed Mr McNaught had probably left his move 20 metres too late.

For approximately 90 metres before Mr McNaught shifted down on the track there was a passing lane run to the inside of Mr M Williamson. Mr McNaught should have had a look and explored a run to the inside. He said he looked for the inside run halfway down the straight. There is no evidence on the video of his looking for a run to the inside of Mr M Williamson, rather the head of his horse is turned outwards on occasion as he is looking for a run to the inside of Ms Barron.

We accept that Mr M Williamson had shifted into the passing lane at its commencement, perhaps fully for only a stride or two. He was the only horse in the passing lane, and he then followed Mr N Williamson as he shifted wider on the track. We accept that a gradual drift, as was the case with the two Williamson horses, is not as perceptible as a more sudden one. However, a developing run became increasingly available down the straight and, as both parties agreed, was fully available in the passing lane from the 130-metre mark.

Mr McNaught did not take the run until 35 metres from the winning post at which time he shifted inwards, and his horse improved forward into the passing lane for the run that was there.

We believe in failing to take the passing lane run sooner than he did, that Mr McNaught has failed to take all reasonable and permissible measures to obtain the best possible position, and finishing place, bearing in mind the margin between third and fourth was ½ a length.

Decision:

We thus find the breach proved.

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Munro stated that Mr McNaught was in his first full season of driving. He has had 79 drives.

He assessed the breach as being on the high side of medium. Mr McNaught had denied the connections and those that had invested on THE POWER BROKER of the possibility of third placing. He submitted a 10-meeting suspension was appropriate, as Mr McNaught, in his estimation, averaged 2 drives per meeting.

Mr Beck said it was not a blatant misjudgement and the breach was low end.

We explored the possibility of a suspension and a fine briefly with Mr McNaught. He said he could afford to pay a fine as long as it was not too steep.

Mr McNaught said he had never previously breached any rule and asked that the Committee consider this.

Reasons For Penalty:

We believe the breach is mid-range. It was a misjudgement on the part of Mr McNaught.

We take the 20 drive / $1000 fine starting point in the Penalty Guide. We have listened to Mr McNaught’s comments as to the increased frequency with which he is driving, and we believe Mr McNaught can be said to have on average 2 ½ drives per meeting. There are no aggravating or mitigating factors with respect to the nature of the breach.

However, there are personal mitigating factors. Mr McNaught is a relatively inexperienced junior and this is his first charge under this or any rule. We give a 5-drive (25 per cent) discount for his junior driver status and excellent record.

Penalty:

Mr McNaught has asked for a deferment till after racing at Gore on 9 February. Mr McNaught drives primarily in Southland although he has driven at Forbury Park. There are 2 Waikouaiti meetings at Oamaru. There is a junior drivers’ race at each of these meetings. We thus include these 2 meetings in our calculation. Mr McNaught is suspended from the end of racing on 9 February up to and including 7 March. This is 6 meetings (15 drives). We believe this suspension adequately marks the seriousness of the breach and the culpability of Mr McNaught, and thus do not impose a fine.

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