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R Te Aroha 29 September 2019 - R 7 - Chair, Mr G Jones

Created on 30 September 2019

Rules:
649(3)
Committee:
GJones (chair)
ADooley
Name(s):
Mr H McNeill - Licensed Rider of DOCTOR HOOK
Mr A Bull - Trainer of DOCTOR HOOK
Mr M Williamson - Senior Stipendiary Steward
Informant
Mr B Jones - Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
A09698
Plea:
Admitted
Charge:
Weighing-in light
Evidence:

This charge arises following running of Race 7, the Bayleys Waikato Hunt Cup. Pursuant to Rule 649 (3), the Informant, Stipendiary Steward Mr B Jones, alleged that the rider of 3rd placed DOCTOR HOOK (H McNeill) weighed in 0.7 kg under the handicapped weight which was 1 kg under the weight which he weighed out.

Mr McNeill acknowledged that he understood the Rule and confirmed his admission of the breach.

Rule 649(3) provides that:

If, on being weighed in, a Rider cannot draw the proper weight (meaning thereby the weight allotted by the Handicapper for his horse to carry and adjusted only by any re-handicap, by having been declared overweight, by penalty or by authorised allowance) the Clerk of the Scales shall allow such rider 0.5 kg and if the allowance is not sufficient to enable the proper weight to be drawn then subject to sub-Rule (4) of this Rule then in addition to any other penalty which may be imposed the horse shall be disqualified for the Race.

At an earlier Request for a Ruling hearing in relation to this matter, on the evidence presented, the Committee disqualified DOCTOR HOOK from its 3rd placing. At the commencement of this hearing it was agreed by all parties that the evidence of the earlier hearing was accepted. In particular notice as taken of the evidence of the Clerk of the Scales, Mr R Sanders who said that following the running of the race Mr McNeill weighed in at 0.7 kg under its handicapped weight. He said that at weigh out Mr McNeill’s weight was 69.3 kg and at weigh in he was 0.7 underweight, taking into account his allowance for his protective vest.

Mr McNeill in explanation stated that he went to the toilet after weighing out and believed that this was the reason for the discrepancy. He acknowledged that he should have reweighed prior to the start of the race.

Decision:

As Mr McNeill admitted the breach the Committee find the charge proved.

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Jones produced Mr McNeill’s record which showed no previous breach under this Rule. He said the Rule places the onus on Mr McNeill to make correct weight and added that as a result of his omission his mount was disqualified from 3rd place. This not only cost the connections of DOCTOR HOOK $3000 in stake money, but also the betting public who had bet on his mount and lost out on a dividend.

Mr Jones submitted a number of precedent cases for the Committee to consider; the most recent being at Waverly on 29 August 2019 where senior rider Mrs Allpress incurred a $1000 fine. He also referred to a similar breach by jumps rider Mr A Kuru on 31 May 2017 which resulted in a 5 day suspension. He added that other similar breaches have resulted in varying fines and suspensions.

Mr Jones submitted Stewards would generally seek a suspension for a breach of this nature, but pointed out that this meeting is the last of the jumps meetings for this year and the schedule for next year’s jumps races has not been finalised. On that basis Mr Jones he would leave it to the Committee to determine an appropriate penalty.

In response Mr McNeill told the Committee it would be unfair for him to receive a similar penalty to that imposed on Mrs Allpress. He said there are limited opportunities for jumps riders and the jumping season is only 6 months in duration and he generally has 1 or 2 mounts per meeting. He added he was committed to remaining in New Zealand for the next 3 years and had recently renewed his (immigration) visa. In conclusion Mr McNeill submitted that he would prefer a suspension as opposed to a fine.

Reasons For Penalty:

The Committee carefully considered all the evidence and submissions presented. The Penalty Guide for Judicial Committees provides no starting point as breach of this rule is rare and is fact dependant. In our determination of penalty we have taken guidance from the precedent cases. In this regard we felt that the circumstances of the case relating to Mrs Allpress were noticeably different to this matter and also Mrs Allpress is a particularly busy rider; she had not breached this rule in over 20 years of race riding and Stewards sought a 2-week suspension.

In our view the circumstances of the breach by Mr A Kuru more closely match the facts of this case and we have used his 5 day suspension as a benchmark.

The aggravating features of this breach are that it occurred in a race carrying stake money of $30,000 which is comparatively high for any jumps race; the connections of DOCTOR HOOK were denied $3000 in stakes for 3rd place following disqualification and the betting public were denied a dividend. Further, this breach could have easily been avoided had Mr McNeill reweighed after going to the toilet.

Taking these factors into account we place the breach at the higher end of the penalty continuum.

Balanced against that we give Mr McNeill credit for his admission of the breach, his good record and the genuine remorse he exhibited during the hearing.

In consideration of penalty the Committee had regard for the limited riding opportunities available for Highweight/Jump riders in a season. Also when considering a suspension versus fine we had regard for the fact the dates for the next jumping season are not yet available.

Taking into account all of the factors including Mr McNeill’s culpability we assessed this breach to equate to a 6 day suspension. On the basis of at least 1 and sometimes 2 rides per meeting we determined a fine of $1200 to be an appropriate penalty.

Penalty:

Accordingly, the Committee imposed a fine of $1200 on Mr McNeill.

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