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19 Jun 2021
Whangarei-Rc - R 3

Whangarei RC 19 June 2021 - R 3 (request for a ruling) - Chair, Hon J W Gendall QC

Created on 22 June 2021

WGendall (chair)
Stipendiary Steward(s):
Mr M Williamson - Senior Stipendiary Steward
Information Number:

Rule 918 of the Rules of Racing enables a Stipendiary Steward to seek a Ruling (where there is no Defendant) from the Judicial Committee on a matter referred to in the Information, because of the following circumstances.

Mr Williamson requested that "Race 3 be declared void due to mechanical failure of the starting stalls ...... which could not be fixed in a timely manner".

Submission For Decision:

The Information referred to Rule 631(6)(c), which gives the Judicial Committee absolute discretion to determine whether a race "is to be void", and it did so in this unusual case. But the Committee records that Stipendiary Stewards have the power under Rule 602(1)(b) and Rule 204 to:

- determine any question as to whether .... any part of a day of racing be abandoned or cancelled, and

- to regulate and ensure all Raceday matters .... and generally, to do all things necessary so that races and racing are conducted efficiently and with integrity ...."

Reasons For Decision:

So the Stipendiary Stewards could, and did, act so as to rule or declare (orally) Race 3 to be "void" - but in fact the decision was, and meant, to abandon the race. They were entitled, and correct, to do so.  For completeness Mr Williamson sought confirmation from the Committee.

So to, in a limited, and technical way, the Committee can exercise its power to amend the Information to relate to Rules 918, 602(1)(b) and 204 and to seek a Ruling that the abandonment was proper, necessary and required.  It would have, in any event, been made by the Judicial Committee so - The Ruling may also refer to "Abandonment under Rule 631(6)(c).

The following are the facts. A mechanical failure of the starting stalls severely hampered several horses in Race 3 The Trigg Construction Maiden. The Starter declared a false start (so as to technically "void" the race) but at least 6 of the 11 starters raced for some distance, for some, up to 600 metres before being pulled up. On returning to the start - where the stalls were still not operative, 4 were declared late scratchings, as was the 5th which had lost its Rider. The field was then reduced to 5. One of these was the well backed second favourite, EXPRESS DESIRE (No. 7), which had competed strongly in the contest ("race") for at least 600 metres before Jockey Ms T Newman pulled it up.

The electrical mechanical failure could not be immediately remedied. Indeed it was not known how long it might be - if ever, before the defect could be remedied. The advice then to the Stewards was it could be indefinite. The backup starting manual mechanism was not immediately in working order.  It was later restored so that all later races were started by manual operation of a lever by the Starter.

The race could not be restarted in a timely manner, and it could not in any reasonable or practical way be started in the open, behind a rope. Of the remaining 5 horses not scratched, some had already run some distance and the second favourite, EXPRESS DESIRE, was seen to run 600 metres (half the distance of the race). The interests of horse welfare, integrity of the Racing Industry, exigencies of time and interests of punters (those who backed EXPRESS DESIRE down to short $3 odds in the full field would not likely have done so if they had known it would later have to run 1800 metres, rather than 1200 metres).  All those combined factors fully justified and required abandonment of the race. The Stipendiary Stewards were entitled to do so.


Separately, if the Information so required, the Committee would rule, in any event, under Rule 631(6)(c) that the Race be void.

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