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NZ Metro TC 25 February 2021 - R 2 - Chair, Mr R McKenzie

Created on 01 March 2021

RMcKenzie (chair)
R D Holmes
Licensed Open Driver
P Williams
Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
Using Whip in Unapproved Manner

Following the running of Race 2, Fahey Fence Hire Handicap Trot, an Information was filed by Stipendiary Steward, Mr P Williams, against Licensed Open Driver, Mr R D Holmes, alleging that, as the driver of SUGARINSPICE in the race, he “used his whip with more than a wrist flicking motion in the home straight”.

Mr Holmes had signed the Statement by the Respondent on the Information form indicating that he admitted the breach. He confirmed this at the hearing at which he was present.

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.

Mr Williams showed to the hearing a video replay of the final 200-300 metres of the race. He pointed out SUGARINSPICE, driven by Mr Holmes, racing in 6th position and among runners as the field approached the home turn. After turning for home, Mr Holmes commenced using his whip and, Mr Williams alleged, used it between 10 and 12 times in more than a wrist flicking motion which was clear from the video replay. Over the concluding stages, Mr Holmes reverted to a compliant style of whip use, Mr Williams said. The Committee noted that SUGARINSPICE finished in 7th placing and 4.7 lengths from the winner.

Mr Holmes did not dispute Mr Williams’ description of his actions. He did not wish to make any submissions with regard to the breach.


Mr Holmes having admitted the breach, it was found proved.

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Williams told the Committee that Mr Holmes had been fined $200 on 29 December 2020 at Banks Peninsula TC meeting for using his whip free of the rein. He has had 82 drives since that breach and, in the interim, has been spoken to by Stewards regarding his whip action.

Mr Williams submitted that a suspension of 3 days was an appropriate penalty.

Mr Williams agreed with the Committee’s observation that the breach was medium-level in terms of the HRNZ Whip Penalty Guide.

Mr Holmes asked the Committee to consider, in arriving at penalty, that he does not drive as frequently as he once did. He confirmed that he had notified engagements at Ashburton on 27 February and at Waikouaiti on 28 February. He advised the Committee that he frequently drives at Otago-Southland meetings.

Reasons For Penalty:

The HRNZ Whip Penalty Guide (effective 1 October 2020) provides as follows:

Mid-level offending is defined as when a driver inadvertently reverts to the old style (freehand, loose reining and/or more than a flicking motion) and continues to drive in this manner for some distance (50 metres) before taking corrective steps to return to a compliant style of driving.

The Committee was satisfied that Mr Holmes’ whip use was medium-level in terms of that definition.

The Penalty Guide suggests a start point for penalty of a $500 fine or a 2-day suspension for a “medium-level” breach, but that is expressed to be for a first offence. The present breach is, of course, Mr Holmes’ second in less than 2 months. This needs to be reflected in the penalty. The Penalty Guide is silent on the matter of penalty for a second or subsequent breach, but an uplift is required, from the 2 days starting point, for a second offence. An uplift of 1 day to 3 days is in line with the approach being taken by the Stewards that, for a second or subsequent breach, the starting point for penalty should default to the previous Penalty Guide – that is to say, a 3-5 days suspension.

There being no other relevant aggravating or mitigating factors, the Committee is satisfied that a term of suspension of 3 days is the appropriate penalty on this occasion.

For the purpose of calculating days, the Committee accepted that Mr Holmes is a regular visitor to Southland Harness meetings, most recently to Invercargill on 13 February.


Mr Holmes’ Open Driver's Licence is suspended from after the close of racing on 28 February 2021 up to and including 7th March 2021 - 3 days. The meetings intended to be encompassed by the period of suspension are Riverton TC on 4th March, NZ Metropolitan TC on 5 March and Cheviot TC on 7th March 2021.

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