Cambridge JC 14 July 2021 – R 1 – Courtney Barnes

ID: RIB3377

Courtney Barnes - Jockey

Mr M Williamson - Senior Stipendiary Steward

Mr G Jones - Chair

Persons Present:
Miss Barnes, Mr Williamson, Mr A Dooley (Stipendiary Steward)

Information Number:

Decision Type:
Race Related Charge

Improper Riding

638(1)(c) - Riding/driving infringement



Race Date:

Race Club:
Cambridge Jockey Club

Race Location:
Cambridge Jockey Club - 40 Racecourse Road, Cambridge, 4210

Race Number:

Hearing Date:

Hearing Location:

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Jockey Courtney Barnes is suspended for 11 (national) days


This charge arises from the running of Race 1 the Nems Medical 1550m.  Senior Stipendiary Steward Mr Williamson filed an Information pursuant to Rule 638 (1)(c) alleging the Rider of DRAGON REALM (Miss Barnes), directed her mount out for a distance near the 900 metres making contact with THORA’S JOY which became unbalanced on numerous occasions until near the 600 metres.  (Later amended to 650 metres).

Due the nature of the charge Miss Barnes was supported at the hearing by Mr N Harris, the Northern Rider Mentor.

Miss Barnes was afforded the opportunity to have the charge heard on a Non-Raceday.  This resulted in some discussion after which she indicated her preference for the charge to be heard immediately.

There was also some further discussion as to whether the charge would be defended after which Miss Barnes confirmed her guilty plea.

Rule 638(1) (c) provides:  A Rider shall not ride a horse in a manner which the Judicial Committee considers to be improper.


Using all available video footage Stipendiary Steward Mr Dooley demonstrated the incident and identified all horses and Riders concerned.  He told the Committee that nearing the 900-metre mark DRAGON REALM (Miss Barnes), after jumping slowly from the inside barrier, was racing at the rear of the field.  At this point THORA’S JOY (V Colgan) was on its outside.  Both horses were racing on equal terms.  Miss Barnes continued to ride forward and directed her mount outward making firm contact with THORA’S JOY.  Mr Colgan held his ground and as a result jostling continued over about 300 metres, during which time Miss Barnes continued to direct her mount outward.  Mr Dooley supported this contention by referring the Committee to the race films which showed DRAGON REALM’S head directed outward.

Mr Dooley said that DRAGON REALM was never clear of THORA’S JOY and Miss Barnes only desisted when Mr Colgan sat up and gave her the right of way.

Mr Dooley said that DRAGON REALM went on and won the race.

In response Miss Barnes said that she was riding the favourite in the race and at the time her mount was travelling well.  By contrast she said Mr Colgan’s mount was not going well.  She accepted that she pulled out once and was then dictated back in by Mr Colgan.  She added that Mr Colgan’s mount did not take the bend well into the back straight.

Mr Harris, in support of Miss Barnes said that THORA’S JOY was not going well and Mr Colgan held his ground.  He said that although Miss Barnes tried to take advantage of the situation there was no malice intended on her part.


As Miss Barnes admitted the breach the Committee found the charge proved.


Mr Williamson produced Miss Barnes’ riding record which indicated two previous breaches under the Careless Riding Rule in the last 12 months, and a clear record in relation to improper riding.

Mr Williamson said Stewards did consider charging Miss Barnes with careless riding (high end) but under the circumstances felt that a charge of improper riding was more appropriate.

Mr Williamson submitted that although the Penalty Guide starting point is 6 weeks suspension, this incident is more worthy of a 3-week starting point.  He said that although Mr Colgan’s mount was bumped and he became unbalanced, Steward’s view Miss Barnes’ level of improper riding to be at the lower end.

In response Miss Barnes advised she has no confirmed engagements during the next 7-day period and that any proposed suspension could commence immediately after the conclusion of today’s racing.

In terms of any proposed penalty Miss Barnes submitted she is normally based in the South Island where she has an exceptional riding record and generally secures 6 to 8 mounts per meeting. She admitted the breach at the first opportunity.  She added that Mr Colgan never had to check his mount.


After considering the submissions and reviewing the race film the Committee determined Miss Barnes’ level of culpability to be in the mid-range. The race films clearly showed that Miss Barnes continued to direct her mount out for a distance in the vicinity of 200 to 300 metres.  During that time, she had ample opportunity to desist and pull back.  It was evident the Mr Colgan had the right of way and he was entitled to hold his ground.  The fact that she was riding the favourite does not excuse her actions.

The starting point for improper riding is 6 weeks, but it must be acknowledged that improper riding falls within the careless riding family of offences, and since December 2020 NZTR has reduced the range of penalties for the various levels of careless riding.

Improper riding occurs when a Rider does any act or omission that is not in accordance with the Rules; is abnormal; wrong or incorrect.  On this occasion Miss Barnes’ actions were clearly outside the scope of what is permitted within the Rules.

Over recent years there have been a limited number of improper riding charges.  There have been 3 recent charges of note:

  • Appeal RIU v C Johnson (24/01/17) had his suspension for careless riding overturned and replaced with improper riding resulting in a 10-day suspension. Johnson directed his mount inwards causing crowding.
  • RIU v T Harris (18/06/14) – 3 weeks for intentionally directing his mount inwards.
  • RIU v T Yanagida (18/09/19) – 18 days for forcing a run and made contact and several horses severely hampered.

From the starting point of 6 weeks suspension, the Committee, after weighing up the severity of breach; Miss Barnes’ culpability and the precedent cases, 4 weeks was adopted as the starting point.  Personal mitigating factors including Miss Barnes’ good record and her admission of the breach were considered.  Also evaluated, was Miss Barnes’ submission that Mr Colgan dictated her mount inward, and his mount did not take the bend well.  Not a lot of weight was placed on this submission as the obligation was also on Miss Barnes to give Mr Colgan the right of way.  It is also a factor that after securing a run, DRAGON REALM went on and won the race by a narrow margin.

After considering all the above factors the Committee considered that an appropriate suspension was 11 (national) days which equates to slightly more than 3 weeks.


Accordingly, Miss Barnes’ licence to ride in races is suspended for a period of 11 days commencing after racing on 14 July 2021 and concluding after racing on 7 August 2021 2020.

The meeting on 1 August 2021 at Te Aroha was not included as it is a Jumps and Apprentice Riders only meeting. Also, Rider declarations for meetings on 15 and 16 July have closed.

Decision Date: 14/07/2021

Publish Date: 15/07/2021