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Rangiora HRC 22 July 2018 - R 5 - Chair, Mr D Anderson

Created on 24 July 2018

DAnderson (chair)
Mr R Houghton - Open Horseman
Mr N Ydgren - Chief Stipendiary Steward
Mr S W Wallis - Stipendiary Steward
Information Number
Excessive use of whip

Following the running of Race 5 the “RANGIORA HARNESS RACING CLUB WINTER CUP” an Information was filed by Stipendiary Steward, Mr S Wallis alleging a breach of Rule 869(2) by Open Horseman, Mr R Houghton. The Information stated that Mr Houghton used his whip in contravention of the use of whip guidelines.

Mr Houghton confirmed to the Committee that he understood the rule that he was being charged with and he had signed the information acknowledging his admittance of the breach.

Rule 869(2) provides 'No horseman shall during any race use his whip in an unnecessary, excessive, or improper manner'.

The Use of Whip Guidelines (effective 1 November 2017) provides (b) No horseman is permitted to use their whip in a striking motion on more than ten occasions inside the final 400 metres. This is inclusive of “backhanders” and the use applies to the horse, harness and/or sulky.

Mr Wallis used the race video to identify Mr Houghton driving (2) DONEGAL CARRICKFIN racing mid -field approaching the home straight. He pointed to Mr Houghton using his whip 18 times within the final 400 metres.

Mr Houghton said that three of the strikes were on the shaft but was aware that those are included in the rule. He said he was under the impression that if he was breaking up his use of the whip, that it was ok.


As Mr Houghton admitted the breach the charge was found proved.

Submission For Penalty:

Mr Wallis said that Mr Houghton has had 18 drives this season, 90 last season, and has a completely clear record under any rule in the last 12 months. He said the penalty guide sliding scale is clear for a first offence of this rule and the Stewards were seeking a $500 fine.

Mr Houghton submitted that he wasn’t in a position to pay such a large fine and would prefer a suspension.

Reasons For Penalty:

The Committee carefully considered all the evidence and submissions and had regard to the JCA penalty guideline sliding scale for a first offence for 17 or more strikes which is a $500 fine. There were clearly 18 strikes.

Mr Houghton was somewhat vague on his grasp of the rule and we would have expected an open driver with his experience to be au-fait with the changes of last December.

Mr Houghton’s request for a suspension instead of a fine was declined. This Committee found it inappropriate to use its discretion in this instance given the fact that Mr Houghton had only driven 18 times this season. Any suspension in Mr Houghton’s case would be substantial and disproportionate having regard to the breach and further the propose of the rule.

Mr Houghton was informed unless there were exceptional or extenuating circumstances the sliding scale penalty guide would be adhered to. There were no such circumstances here.


Mr Houghton is fined $500.

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