Akaroa TC 3 December 2022 – R7 (heard 11 December 2022 at Methven) – Jason Ford

ID: RIB15247

Jason Ford - Driver

Mr S Renault - Stipendiary Steward

Mr D Anderson (Chair) and Mr R McKenzie

Persons Present:
Mr Renault, Mr Ford, Mr N McIntyre - Chief RIB Steward

Information Number:

Decision Type:
Race Related Charge

Failed to take all reasonable and permissible measures

868(2) - Riding/driving infringement

Not Admitted

Animal Name:


Race Date:

Race Club:
Akaroa Trotting Club

Race Location:
Motukarara Racecourse - 43 Duck Pond Road, Motukarara, 7672

Race Number:

Hearing Date:

Hearing Location:

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Open Driver Jason Ford is suspended for a period of 1 month and fined $500


Following the running of Race 7, at the Akaroa Trotting Club’s meeting on 3rd December 2022, the Respondent Mr Ford denied a breach of Rule 868(2) and was adjourned sine die.

Rule 868(2) states: every Driver shall take all reasonable and permissible measures at all times during the race to ensure that his/her horse is given full opportunity to win the race or to obtain the best possible position and/or finishing place.

The hearing of the Information was held at the Mt Harding Racecourse, Methven on 11 December 2022.

The Respondent endorsed the Information “I do not admit the breach of the Rule” and confirmed he was conversant with the Rule and the nature of the charge.

Applicant’s Submissions:

1)  Rule 868(2) reads – Every Driver shall take all reasonable and permissible measures at all times during the race to ensure that his/her horse is given full opportunity to win the race or to obtain the best possible position and/or finishing place.

2)  Rule 868(2) is aimed at ensuring that the integrity of Harness Racing is protected. A Driver has two main obligations. They are to drive his horse in a manner that is both reasonable and permissible in order to gain the best possible finishing place, as an investor is entitled to have a Driver do his best to gain a return from that investment.

3)  The race was run over 2810m. TEST THE BOUNDARIES raced 4 back on the marker line throughout. The horse was held up behind the weakening MAKE MY SUNDON leaving the final bend, until shifting to its outside early in the run home.

4)  Mr Ford was again held up early in the run home behind ROYAL DEL, who shifts to the inside of SIOUX PRINCESS approaching the 300m.

5)  Mr Ford then directs his horse inwards slightly and aims for a gap between ROYAL DEL and SIOUX PRINCESS. This happens near the 250m and Mr Ford remains between both of the aforementioned horses for a considerable period.

6)  The video clearly shows that there is never a full run for both TEST THE BOUNDARIES and the horse’s sulky. Mr Ford maintains his position for approximately 150m where he is unable to obtain clear running.

7)  Both SIOUX PRINCESS and ROYAL DEL maintain a straight course, there simply was not a run for TEST THE BOUNDARIES between those two horses.

8)  Mr Ford realises that there is no run between those runners and elects to shift down the track to the inside of ROYAL DEL near the 100m and is able to drive his horse out from that point until the end of the race. The horse makes solid ground on the inside of the track and finishes in 2nd place beaten ¾ of a length.

9)  Stewards have serious concerns with Mr Ford’s actions from approximately the 250m until near the 100m when, persisting with a run to the outside of ROYAL DEL when there was never a gap to go through.

10)  Mr Ford maintained his position behind the 2 horses for approximately 150m when it was unreasonable to do so, as no run was available at any stage.

11)  Mr Ford had an unobstructed run in the passing lane throughout the run home, however only elected to shift into the passing lane near the 100m.

12)  There is a clear obligation on the part of a Driver, that they must leave no doubt in the minds of the viewer of the race (whether that is the Stewards, the public or the Adjudicative Committee) that the horse is given every opportunity to finish in the best possible position.

13)  A quote from the Hon Justice Mr WR Haylen in relation to a Ruling dated 20 May 2009 said.

“Perhaps to throw my interpretation into the mix I might view it this way – that the sort of culpable action that is required to amount to a breach of this Rule might be such that in normal circumstances a reasonable and knowledgeable harness racing spectator might be expected to exclaim with words to the effect “what on earth is he doing “or “my goodness look at that” or some such exclamation”.

14)  Any spectator or punter watching the race and then looking at the head on replay following the race, would have every right to say, “what was Mr Ford doing?” There is plenty of room in the passing lane to obtain a clear and unobstructed run, however he has left it far too late to shift inwards to take that run.

15)  A quote from the Judicial Committee in RIU v H 2005 said “A breach of this particular Rule (the Rule Mr Ford has been charged under) is one that invariably jeopardises the integrity of Harness Racing for reasons which are self-evident. Harness races are based on the requirement that all contestants in a race are given every opportunity by their Drivers and that, when the race has been run, all contestants have been fully tested and been asked to do the best that they can do. This has to be the case in order that the betting public, so important to the Industry, can have confidence that they have had a run for their money when they have invested their money on contestants in a harness race. Any suggestion that a horse has not been given every possible opportunity and has not been asked to do the best that it can, for whatever reason, will result in loss of public confidence in harness racing. As stated, it is the primary function of the Judicial Committees, in dealing with penalty, to maintain integrity and public confidence in Harness Racing”.

16)  It is the view of the Stewards that Mr Ford’s actions fell well short of what a reasonable­ minded person would expect, especially when taking into account it was entirely permissible to shift inwards into the vacant passing lane much earlier than 100m from the finish. The ongoing confidence in the Harness Racing Industry needs constant reinforcement, including the displaying of driving using reasonable and permissible measures at all times to ensure a horse is given every opportunity to win a race or finish in the best possible position. Mr Ford’s actions on this occasion have clearly failed to meet that threshold.

Respondent’s Submissions:

Mr Ford used the video replay to show ROYAL DEL, entering the home straight, shift to the inside of the lead horse SIOUX PRINCESS (B Orange) and race to the front. He said from this point, his thought was the passing lane was occupied. He said there was a gap appearing between SIOUX PRINCESS and ROYAL DEL and he believed he was “definitely going to get a go there”.

Mr Ford’s contention was, had ROYAL DEL kept a straight line the gap would have come, but he said, that was not the case. He said at one stage he thought there was enough room to take the gap, but ROYAL DEL kept drifting out.

Mr Ford said it was outrageous to suggest he made no effort to win the race as he had tried to secure a run to his outside but when it became unavailable to himself, he has switched to the inside for a run. He said he was anticipating the run between the two horses and had they kept their true line, it would have eventuated.

Mr Renault, in summing up, stated there was never a run to the outside of ROYAL DEL, Mr Ford was anticipating a run from the 250m which didn’t come. He said the Stewards’ contention is that Mr Ford made a serious error of judgement as there was always an opportunity to shift inwards and take the vacant passing lane.

Reasons for Decision:

The Adjudicative Committee carefully considered all the submissions presented and the available video films.

The front straight camera clearly shows ROYAL DEL and SIOUX PRINCESS kept a relatively straight line until approximately 100m, where ROYAL DEL has drifted out half a cart and SIOUX PRINCESS has shifted in slightly. These movements had no bearing on Mr Ford as at this stage of the race, he was manoeuvring for a run in the passing lane.

The same camera angle shows when ROYAL DEL has shifted to the inside of SIOUX PRINCESS, at approximately the 300m, it hasn’t entered the passing lane and the lane was available to Mr Ford for at the very least 150m before he eventually went there.

The Adjudicative Committee finds Mr Ford has seriously erred by driving one dimensionally, believing a run that wasn’t there would eventually come when a run was always available to him in the passing lane. Persisting for a run to the outside has cost himself and the investors on the horse the chance of winning the race, which on reflection would most likely have happened.


The charge was found proved.

Penalty Submissions:

Mr Renault stated Mr Ford has had 55 drives this season, 67 last season and as expected, a clear record under the Rule. He said Mr Ford averages 1.25 drives per meeting or just over 1 drive per week and the starting point for the Rule is a 20-drive suspension, which would equate to a 20-week suspension.

Mr Renault said it was always difficult finding an appropriate penalty for someone who doesn’t drive a lot and Stewards believe a period of suspension would be preferable rather than one of a number of meetings.

Mr Ford said he has just qualified another horse and together with the two horses he is currently racing, he may be driving three times per week. Mr Ford alluded to Mr Orange (leading Driver), who drives twenty races per week would only be suspended for 3 days, “hardly fair” he said.

Mr Ford was agreeable to a combined fine/suspension penalty.

Reasons for Penalty:

The Penalty Guide starting point provides a 20-drive suspension or a $1000 fine for a breach of this Rule.

It has always been a difficult exercise for Adjudicative Committees to find an apposite sanction for an infrequent Driver, something the impending new Guidelines will address.

As previously quoted by Mr Renault in the RIU v H 2005 Decision, “a Breach of this Rule invariably jeopardises the integrity of Harness Racing for reasons which are self-evident”. This Adjudicative Committee, in considering the seriousness of the charge, which this is, and finding a penalty which is both fair and reasonable, concludes a suspension for a period of one month and a fine of $500 to be appropriate in this case.


Mr Ford’s Licence to drive in races is suspended for a period of 1 month beginning from the close of racing on the 11 December 2022 and concluding at the close of racing 11 January 2023. In addition, a fine of $500 is imposed.

Decision Date: 11/12/2022

Publish Date: 01/02/2023