You are here: Home / Non race day hearings / Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v D Ferguson - Decision dated 15 March 2021 - Chair, Mr B J Scott

Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v D Ferguson - Decision dated 15 March 2021 - Chair, Mr B J Scott

Created on 19 March 2021


HELD AT Cambridge Raceway

IN THE MATTER of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing

IN THE MATTER of Information A14204

BETWEEN Racing Integrity Unit


Senior Stipendiary Steward




Open Driver


Information No: A14204

Rule No: 868(2)

Hearing date: 11 March 2021

Judicial Committee: BJ Scott -Chair

AJ Godsalve – Member

Present: Mr D Ferguson – Open Driver

Mr G Rogerson – Licenced Trainer and Mr Ferguson’s Employer

Mr S Mulcay – Senior Stipendiary Steward

Date of Oral Decision: 11 March 2021


1. Mr Ferguson defends a charge of a breach of Rule 868(2) in that when driving YA KNOW he failed to take all reasonable and permissible measures to ensure that his horse was given full opportunity to win the Race or to obtain the best possible position and/or finishing place by shifting down to a position three back on the marker line near the 350 metres mark which resulted in YA KNOW being held up over the final stages when unable to secure clear running.

2. The charge is based on the fact that Mr Ferguson moved his horse down to the marker line when it was travelling well, and he should have waited until the straight entrance and then moved outside the horse in front of him. YA KNOW finished third.

3. Rule 868(2) provides: “Every Driver 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”.

4. Mr Mulcay demonstrated the incident using the available race films. He was able to show several different angles to the Committee. He showed where with approximately 350 metres to run YA KNOW was one out and two back and trailing the eventual winner IVEGOTBILLS which was the third favourite in the betting. YA KNOW was the favourite. IVEGOTBILLS was racing particularly well at the time as was Mr Ferguson’s horse.

5. There were only 7 starters in the race and at the time only 5 in contention for the finishing placings.

6. Mr Mulcay then showed where Mr Ferguson elected to take his horse down to the marker line behind the leader and the trailing horse. When the field turned for home Mr Ferguson had difficulty obtaining clear running all the way to the finishing line and his horse finished full of running. IVEGOTBILLS was able to move one out on the home turn and it had clear running all the way to the finish and won the race.

7. Mr Mulcay then said that Mr Ferguson had options, but he took the wrong option and in doing so denied his horse the opportunities as set out in Rule 868(2). He said the decision to shift in was more than a mere error of judgement and the poor choice by Mr Ferguson impacted on his horse’s chances.

8. Mr Rogerson on behalf of Mr Ferguson said that Mr Ferguson did have options, but it was a matter of opinion as to whether he took the wrong option. Mr Rogerson didn’t think so and pointed out to the Committee that YA KNOW is a 3 year old filly having just its third start and it was racing against older horses. He said that at its last start it had moved out 3 and 4 wide to get a run and could only finish fourth.

9. Mr Rogerson said that he told Mr Ferguson to save ground and he was very happy with the drive. Mr Rogerson also said that if Mr Ferguson had have pulled outside Ms Chilcott’s horse he would have been three and four wide and that would have been too tough on YA KNOW.

10. Mr Mulcay again showed the head on angle of the film and showed whereas a result of the movements outwards of the front horses Mr Ferguson did not have a clear run to the finish.

11. Mr Ferguson after looking again at the head on film asked Mr Mulcay if he was entitled to go into the passing lane and Mr Mulcay said that Mr Ferguson wasn’t entitled to do so.


12. Mr Mulcay said that the Racing Industry depends on the punting dollar and that the integrity of racing is paramount. He asked if the Committee thought that punters got a good run after Mr Ferguson went from a position where he had options to a position where he was unable to get a clear run.

13. Mr Ferguson asked if it was relevant that his horse was favourite, and it was pointed out to him that a breach of this Rule can happen with any horse.

14. Mr Rogerson said that it was not an intentional act on Mr Ferguson’s part to take the wrong option.

15. Mr Ferguson said the charge was incorrect and he was not in breach of it. The Committee pointed out to him that it was all about control ie. controlling your own destiny in the race by choosing the correct options.


16. We have listened to the parties and we have taken the opportunity to spend some time viewing all angles of the race films. It is very hard to understand why Mr Ferguson moved down to the marker line when if he stayed where he was, he would have had numerous options one of which would have been a clear run to the finish. We particularly noted that Ms Chilcott did not pull her horse out until around the final corner and if Mr Ferguson had have remained where he was, he would have had a clear run to the finish. Just as importantly he would not have had to move out 3 and 4 wide around the bend which Mr Rogerson was concerned about. We also noted that Mr Ferguson weaved his way through the straight and his horse was full of running and he did not turn his whip around at any stage. Mr Ferguson’s horse as a result was very unlucky and the Committee told him that his actions were not a good look as far as the Industry is concerned.

17. We have no difficulty in finding that the elements of Rule 868(2) are satisfied, and the charge is proved.


18. Mr Mulcay referred to the JCA Penalty Guidelines which provide a starting point penalty of suspension for 20 drives and/or a $1,000 fine. He said that Mr Ferguson is a busy Driver and he has had 1825 lifetime drives. He produced a very recent decision of Mr R Holmes and submitted that the number of drives Mr Ferguson has is similar to that of Mr Holmes. In that case Mr Holmes received a 4-day suspension and Mr Mulcay submitted that a similar suspension for Mr Ferguson would be appropriate.

19. Mr Ferguson did not have any submissions about penalty but asked that the suspension begins immediately.


20. We have reviewed the starting point penalties in the JCA Guidelines and we believe that a 4-day suspension will equate to a 20 drive penalty. The 4 days includes 2 days at the upcoming Manawatu Harness meeting and Mr Mulcay has told us that Mr Ferguson generally gets a full book of drives at this meeting.

21. There are no mitigating factors, this was a very clear breach of this Rule and as we told Mr Ferguson it did not look good.

22. Mr Ferguson’s Drivers Licence is accordingly suspended from the conclusion of racing today up to the conclusion of racing at Alexandra Park on the 26th of March 2021. That is 4 driving days being Manawatu on the 16th of March, Cambridge on the 18th of March, Manawatu on the 23rd of March and Auckland Trotting Club on the 26th of March.

23. This matter has been heard on a Raceday and therefore there are no orders as to RIU or JCA costs.



Document Actions