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NZ Metropolitan TC 22 April 2021 - R 7 - Chair, Mr R McKenzie

Created on 26 April 2021

Committee:
RMcKenzie (chair)
Name(s):
Mr CJ DeFilippi - Licensed Open Driver
Informant
Mr P Williams - Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
A13299
Plea:
Denied
Charge:
Contravention of the Use of Whip Regulations
Evidence:

Following the running of Race 7, Alabar Handicap Pace, an Information was filed by Stipendiary Steward, Mr P Williams, against Licensed Open Driver, Mr CJ DeFilippi, alleging that, as the Driver of BELMONT MAJOR in the race, he “used his whip with more than a wrist flicking motion”.

Mr DeFilippi had signed the Statement by the Respondent on the Information form indicating that he denied the breach. He confirmed this at the hearing at, which he was present, after the Regulation was read to him by Mr Williams at his request.

The Whip and Rein Regulations provide as follows:

3.1 A driver may only apply the whip in a wrist only flicking motion whilst holding a rein in each hand with the tip of the whip pointed forward in an action which does not engage the shoulder.
3.2 For the purposes of clause 3.1, “wrist only flicking motion” means:
3.2.1 Ensuring no force is generated by the use of the elbow or shoulder when applying the whip.
3.2.2 The forearm is not raised beyond forty-five degrees relative to the racing surface.
3.2.3 Not applying the whip with overt force.
3.3 A driver shall not use a whip in an unapproved manner.
3.4 For the purposes of Clause 3.3 a driver shall be deemed to have used the whip in an unapproved manner in the following circumstances which are not exclusive:
3.4.1 If the whip is applied other than as permitted in clause 3.1.

Submission For Decision:

Mr Williams showed to the hearing a video replay of the final 200-300 metres of the race. He pointed out BELMONT MAJOR, driven by Mr DeFilippi, improving widest on the track as the field approached the home turn. Shortly after turning for home, Mr DeFilippi commenced using his whip and, Mr Williams alleged, he used it on eight occasions which were more than a wrist only flicking motion but, rather, by generating force by the use of his elbow or shoulder.

Referring to the Regulations, Mr DeFilippi submitted that he had not raised his forearm beyond forty-five degrees and had not used overt force. He acknowledged that he had his trouble using his wrist only after 45 years of using his whip in a different manner. To have used his whip, wrist only, on the horse would have been “a waste of time”, he said.

Mr DeFilippi then questioned why the Regulations were more strictly enforced in Canterbury that in other parts of the country, and whether he was the only driver in this Race who had used more than his wrist.

When put to him by the Committee that he had used his elbow and shoulder he answered that he had not and he went on to say that it was a close finish. A Driver’s first obligation was to finish as close as he or she can, he said, but he accepted that this had to be done within the Rules. He then admitted that he had used more than his wrist on this occasion but denied he had breached the forty-five degrees provision or that he had used overt force. He added that he was being picked on by Stewards.

Mr Williams said that it was alleged by the Stewards that Mr DeFilippi had also used overt force, in breach of regulation 3.2.3 (above).

Reasons For Decision:

The Committee was comfortably satisfied that Mr DeFilippi had used his whip in more that a wrist only flicking motion on at least eight occasions in the final 200 metres of the race. In fact, the breach was very obvious from a viewing of the video replay. It was quite clear that, by any definition, Mr DeFilippi had generated force by engaging his elbow or shoulder when applying the whip, in breach of regulation 3.2.1, on a conservative eight occasions. Mr DeFilippi himself acknowledged, during the course of presenting his defence, that he had used more than a wrist only flicking action. He denied that he had breached regulation 3.2.2 and 3.2.3, but the Information did not allege a breach of either of those provisions.

Decision:

The breach was found proved.

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Williams confirmed that Mr DeFilippi has a “history” with the whip. Mr Williams detailed recent breaches and penalties:
26 March at Addington – 5 days
14 February at Methven – 4 days
10 January at Nelson – 3 days.

Mr DeFilippi has had 51 drives since the breach at Nelson on 10 January, during which time has incurred two further suspensions, Mr Williams said. He has had 153 drives this season. Mr Williams submitted that, having regard to that record, a period of suspension of not less than 8 days is an appropriate penalty.

Mr DeFilippi asked Mr Williams if he believed that this breach deserved an 8-day suspension.

Mr Williams responded that it did in the context of his record.

The breach was in the mid-to-high range, Mr Williams submitted.

Mr DeFilippi submitted that any penalty in excess of 3 days would be “all out of proportion”. He said that not one strike was delivered with force and did not agree with the Committee’s observation that it looked bad. He would be “disappointed” to receive 8 days, he said.

He said that he had notified drives for the meeting of Methven TC on 26 April.

Reasons For Penalty:

Mr DeFilippi’s record of whip breaches is nothing short of appalling. He is clearly having a problem adjusting to the stricter requirements of the new Regulations which have now been in force since 1 October 2020. Mounting periods of suspension do not appear to be having any effect.

There is no Penalty Guide to assist this Committee. It is easy to simply raise the penalty imposed for the most recent breach. However, that does not seem to be working, and it has got to the stage where, what might otherwise be the penalty for this particular breach, the penalty becomes disproportionate. There may be a perception, after a while, that Mr DeFilippi is being punished for previous breaches for which he has already paid the penalty.

It is not appropriate to unduly punish Mr DeFilippi. When one stands back and looks at what might be an appropriate penalty, it must be considered that a further suspension is going to cost Mr DeFilippi dearly in terms of income and opportunities. Included in the period of suspension, which the Committee intends to impose, is a premier meeting with a Group 1 race for a stake of $120,000.

The Committee, while having some sympathy for Mr DeFilippi, who says that he is having trouble adjusting to the new whip Rules and having to change the habits acquired over 45 years of race driving, is of the view that he cannot continue to flout the new Regulations.

On this occasion, the Committee, for the reasons given, is prepared to extend Mr DeFilippi some leniency, rather than slavishly follow some penalty regime where each breach attracts a greater penalty than the previous one. Nevertheless, the penalty cannot be mercifully weak. Mr Williams has submitted for an 8-day suspension.

The Committee has decided that a 6-day suspension is, it is to be hoped, a sufficient penalty to deter Mr DeFilippi from reoffending while, at the same time, showing disapproval of his recidivist offending. He must earnestly address his repeat offending.

Penalty:

Mr DeFilippi’s Open Driver’s Licence is suspended from after the close of racing on 26 April 2021 up to and including 14 May 2021 – 6 days. The meetings intended to be encompassed by the period of suspension are NZ Metropolitan TC on 30 April, Ashburton TC on 1 May, NZ Metropolitan TC on 7 May, Rangiora HRC on 9 May and NZ Metropolitan TC on 11 and 14 May 2021.

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