Auckland TC 26 April 2024 – R7 – Greg Sugars

ID: RIB41397

Greg Sugars - Driver

Mr S Mulcay (Senior Stipendiary Steward)

Mr M Godber (Chair) and Mr G Jones

Persons Present:
Mr S Mulcay and Mr P Williams (Stipendiary Stewards), Mr G Sugars (Driver)

Information Number:

Decision Type:
Race Related Charge

Careless Driving

869(3)(b) - Riding/driving infringement


Animal Name:


Race Date:

Race Club:
Auckland Trotting Club

Race Location:
Alexandra Park - Cnr Greenlane West & Manukau Road Greenlane, Auckland, 1051

Race Number:

Hearing Date:

Hearing Location:
Alexandra Park

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Driver Greg Sugars is suspended for 5 Race Days

Summary of Facts:

Following the running of Race 7, Mr G Sugars, admitted a breach of Rule 869(3)(b); namely that when driving BETTER ECLIPSE, he shifted in passing the 500 metre point checking SOONER THE BETTOR, driven by Mr S Phelan, causing that runner to break.

Mr Sugars endorsed the Information ‘I do admit the breach of the rule’ and confirmed he understood the Rule and the nature of the charge.

Rule 869(3)(b) provides:

No Driver in any race shall drive carelessly.

Using available video footage, Senior Stipendiary Steward Mr S Mulcay identified the horses involved in the incident namely, BETTER ECLIPSE driven by Mr Sugars and SOONER THE BETTOR, driven by Mr S Phelan.   He said that BETTER ECLIPSE (Mr Sugars) and SOONER THE BETTOR had been attempting to establish a run behind SPEAK THE TRUTH (Driven by Mr A Sanderson). Approaching the 500 metre point, the Stewards considered that Mr Phelan had established that position and when Mr Sugars’ horse BETTER ECLIPSE shifted in approximately passing the 500 metre point, it had contacted and checked SOONER THE BETTOR, which subsequently broke, losing all chance. The Stewards had questioned Mr Phelan, the Driver of SOONER THE BETTOR, and he advised that he had felt pressure from the outside when BETTER ECLIPSE moved in.

In explanation, Mr Sugars stated that he was adapting to the New Zealand Rules and felt that he and Mr Phelan were still competing for the run on the back of Mr Sanderson’s horse and that his horse (BETTER ECLIPSE) had moved in only slightly, if at all, and that the very tight circumstances had caused the interference. He considered that Mr Phelan had placed his horse in restricted room and contributed to the incident.


The charge is admitted by the Respondent and is therefore deemed proved.

Submissions for Penalty:

Mr Mulcay advised that Mr Sugars was a prominent Driver in Australia with a very good record.

Mr Mulcay stated that interference was at the lower end, however, it was a Group 1 Race, and the consequences were significant as SOONER THE BETTOR broke and lost all chance. In mitigation, Mr Mulcay said that the Respondent freely admitted the breach and combined with his excellent driving record, should be afforded some credit.

The Penalty Guide for careless driving in a Group Race has a starting point of 5 days suspension and the Stewards considered this would be an appropriate penalty.

Mr Sugars submitted that the interference was only slight and at the low end.

Mr Sugars sought a deferment to any proposed suspension until after the race meeting at Menangle on Saturday 27 April.

Reasons for Penalty:

The Penalty Guide provides a penalty starting point of 5 days suspension.

After taking into account the submissions of both the Applicant and Respondent; noting the race film and the resultant impact on the affected runner, the Adjudicative Committee assessed the breach as low but the consequences of the interference, being in a Group 1 Race, were high, considering SOONER THE BETTOR subsequently broke and lost all chance. This would justify an uplift in penalty by one day. However, Mr Sugars’ very good record and admission of the breach, would result in a reduction in penalty of one day, offsetting that uplift.

Therefore, after evaluating all of the factors, the Adjudicative Committee determined a 5 day suspension would be an appropriate penalty in the circumstances of this case.

In assessing the particular days of suspension, the Stewards advised that Australian Drivers have their Australian driving opportunities calculated. This had been applied at the NZ Cup meeting in November and also applied at the Grins race night on 12 April.


Mr Sugars is granted a deferment and has his Licence to drive suspended for 5 days, from the conclusion of racing on Saturday 27 April to the conclusion of racing on Thursday 2 May 2024 inclusive (5 Australian Racing Days).

Decision Date: 26/04/2024

Publish Date: 29/04/2024