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Wellington RC 10 June 2017 - R 3 (request for ruling) - Chair, Mrs N Moffatt

Created on 11 June 2017

NMoffatt (chair)
Stipendiary Steward(s):
Mr N Goodwin - Stipendiary Steward
Mr S Fannin - Rider of HIGHLY LIKELY, Mr C Price - Rider of LONELY BOY, Mr G Phillips - Official Starter, Mr R Rauhihi - Starter's Assistant, Mr D Balcombe - Stipendiary Steward
Information Number:

Following the running of Race 3, the Mills Reef Winery Steeplechase, the Stewards requested a ruling in relation to Rule 632(1) as to whether HIGHLY LIKELY and LONELY BOY received a fair start.

Rule 632 reads: If, in the opinion of the Judicial Committee, a horse which does not finish in the first three placings was prevented from taking an effective part in a Race owing to mechanical failure of starting stalls, or is denied a fair start and such occurrence materially prejudiced the chances of that horse (but not where the horse is slow away by its own accord), the Judicial Committee may declare such horse to be a non-starter.

Submission For Decision:

Race 3 was a steeplechase run over 4000m with a standing start. HIGHLY LIKELY had drawn the 7 position and LONELY BOY the 3 position. Mr Phillips told the committee that HIGHLY LIKELY was being “a real handful” at the start so he asked Mr Rauhihi (starter’s assistant) to lead it around in an attempt to get it to go forward. Mr Fannin, the rider, said his mount had been playing up from the time he arrived at the start. He explained how HIGHLY LIKELY was “freezing” and wouldn’t go up to join the rest of the field. Mr Rauhihi said he had a lead on the horse but it continued to play up. Just prior to Mr Phillips starting the race he let the horse go but immediately it swung around, went backwards and collided with LONELY BOY. Both riders were dislodged in the collision.

Charlie Price (LONELY BOY) said his horse had got its tongue over the bit on the way to the start but they got that sorted prior to the beginning of the race. Mr Price said as the field lined up he felt as if he had “no steering” and wondered if the horse had again got its tongue over the bit. Despite this Mr Price said it had no bearing on the events that followed.

In response to a question form the Committee Mr Price said if HIGHLY LIKELY had not collided with him LONELY BOY would have left with the rest of the field.

For the Stewards Mr Goodwin said HIGHLY LIKELY was fractious from the time he arrived at the start and it was the horse that was at fault. LONELY BOY however was denied a fair start due to colliding with HIGHLY LIKELY.

Reasons For Decision:

The Judicial Committee carefully considered all of the submissions.

In the first instance we considered the circumstances of HIGHLY LIKELY. All the evidence presented indicated the horse was proving unruly and video footage from various angles confirmed this. Despite the effort of an experienced starting assistant HIGHLY LIKELY was difficult to manoeuvre into the correct start position. We were satisfied by the evidence placed before the Committee that Mr Rauhihi had released the lead rope just prior to Mr Phillips calling the official start. HIGHLY LIKELY went into reverse and collided with LONELY BOY resulting in both riders being dislodged and both horses running free. Rule 632(1) allows the Judicial Committee discretion to declare a horse a non-starter (but not when the horse is slow away by its own accord.)

Based on the evidence it was our opinion that Mr Fannin’s mount was the author of its own misfortune and because of this we declared HIGHLY LIKELY to be a starter.

Next we turned to the circumstances of LONELY BOY. Mr Price concurred with the submissions of the other parties and although there had been an issue with his mount getting its tongue over the bit he was adamant that this had no bearing on the start. He was also firm in his belief that if there had been no collision his horse would have left with the rest of the field.

We were satisfied that LONELY BOY was denied a fair start and its chances were not only materially prejudiced but once the rider had been dislodged its chances were extinguished. We were further satisfied that the fractious and unruly behaviour of HIGHLY LIKELY was the cause of the collision.


We therefore declared LONELY BOY to be a non-starter.

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