Ashburton TC 3 September 2023 – R2 – Alan Clark
Ashburton Trotting Club
Ashburton Racecourse - Racecourse Road, Ashburton, 7700
Ashburton Racecourse, Ashburton
Penalty: Open Driver, Alan Clark, suspended 6 days
Following the running of Race 2, Mt Hutt Trotting Club Mobile Trot, Open Driver, Alan Clark, admitted a charge that, as the Driver of IMPERIAL COMMAND in the race, he “drove in a manner capable of diminishing his chances of winning when applying significant pressure to KRACKA LOOKA (Brad Williamson) which was leading through the middle stages”.
Rule 869 provides:
(3) No driver in any race shall drive:
(g) in any manner capable of diminishing the chances of his horse winning.
Stipendiary Steward, Shane Renault, showed a video replay of the entire race, a 1700 metres mobile start race for 2-year-old trotters. He pointed out IMPERIAL COMMAND, driven by the Respondent, drawn the outside of the 7-horse field. The Respondent progressed forward wide to the first bend, with KRACKA LOOKA (Brad Williamson), which had drawn 7 to his inside and FREYA (Ben Hope), which had drawn 3, inside that runner.
Mr Williamson’s runner took the lead after the turn out of the straight, at about the 1200 metres. At that point, the Respondent activated the removable deafeners on his runner, which was then racing in the parked position, and asked it to go forward.
The Respondent “issued a strong challenge” to Mr Williamson’s runner through the middle stages and got a length in front, but did not actually clear that horse, Mr Renault said. He continued to drive forward until, at about the 600 metres, he activated the pull-up blinds. He continued to ask the horse to go. Nearing the home straight, the horse continued to lose ground on the leader and was passed by other runners, eventually finishing in 6th placing (9.1 lengths from the winner).
Mr Renault said that Stewards had no issue with the Respondent progressing 3-wide to challenge for the lead. However, it was clear that Mr Williamson was not going to give up the lead. The Respondent continued with his challenge, and to apply pressure.
Mr Renault said that it would have been expected of the Respondent that, once he realised that the lead was not available, he would take a hold of the horse and give it some respite, to enable it to finish off the race in the best possible manner.
The Respondent explained that when he pushed forward, he expected that he would be able to take the lead. He got his wheel outside the head of Mr Williamson’s runner, but he could not cross down. At the 800 metres, he said, he did back off the speed a bit. He said that the last 800 metres was run in 59 seconds (in fact, 59.9), so there was not a lot of speed up front. From there, until past the 600 metres, the horse was just sitting outside the leader with no pressure being applied. At that point, he activated the earplugs and the pull-up blinds to get the horse to “kick again”, as other runners came round. From the 800 metres, there is no “breather” in a race, he said.
The Respondent said that the horse had broken a pedal bone five or six months ago and had been off the scene, with four months in the paddock. He had been trying to get to workouts in his area, which had been cancelled, for the last three weeks. The horse just ran out of condition. It is quite capable of running 2.01, he said, but it had missed out on fast runs. However, the horse had run well at the trials earlier in the week, in his first run back.
The charge having been admitted, it is deemed proved.
SUBMISSIONS FOR PENALTY:
Mr Renault said that the Respondent has driven in 10 races in the current season. It was accepted that the horse did suffer an injury in April, as a result of which the Respondent has not been driving as often as he normally would. In the 2022 season, he had 29 drives.
The Penalty Guide starting point for a breach of the Rule is an 8-days suspension. Stewards saw eight local days as being an appropriate penalty, he said.
The Respondent indicated that he did not require a deferment of any suspension. IMPERIAL COMMAND is the only horse that he has racing at the present time, he said.
REASONS FOR PENALTY:
The RIB Harness Racing Penalty Guide (February 2023) provides a starting point for penalty for a breach of the Rule of an 8-days suspension. That is an appropriate starting point for this breach.
There are no aggravating factors. Mitigating factors to be considered are the Respondent’s clear record and his admission of the breach. The Adjudicative Committee fixes the discount for those mitigating factors at 25%, or 2 days.
Open Driver, Alan Clark, is suspended from after the close of racing on 3 September 2023, up to and including 24 September 2023 – 6 days.
Decision Date: 03/09/2023
Publish Date: 04/09/2023