GRNZ Request for Review – Written Decision dated 24 March 2022 – John McInerney

ID: RIB8032

Respondent(s):
Rick Quirk - Other (Stipendiary Steward)

Applicant:
John McInerney, Licensed Trainer

Appeal Committee Member(s):
Russell McKenzie (Chair) and Stewart Ching

Persons Present:
Mr John McInerney Jnr (representing the Applicant) and Rick Quirk, Stipendiary Steward

Decision Type:
Greyhound Review

Review Request:
Mr Muppet stood down for marring (3rd offence)

Rule(s):
55.1(a) and (e)

Animal Name:
Mr Muppet

Code:
Greyhound

Race Date:
25/02/2022

Race Club:
Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club

Race Location:
Addington Raceway - 75 Jack Hinton Drive, Addington, Christchurch, 8024

Race Number:
R10

Hearing Date:
15/03/2022

Hearing Location:
Addington Raceway, Christchurch

Outcome: Determination

Penalty: Application for review dismissed

BACKGROUND:

Following the running of Race 10, kiwikiwihounds.co.nz Adoption Dash (Class 2), the Stipendiary Stewards found that the Greyhound, MR MUPPET, trained by the Applicant, had “ran outwards making head contact with GORILLA’S SMILE early stages” and the Greyhound was stood down for 12 months for marring, being its 3rd offence.

The Applicant has filed a Request for Review dated 5 March 2022 which states the reason for disagreeing with the decision as “We do not agree with the findings. We do not agree that he marred during the Race”.

Rule 55.1 of the Rules of Racing of the New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association provides as follows:

Where a Greyhound:

(a)    Mars the running of any other Greyhound during a Race

the Stewards may impose the following periods of suspension:

(e)     in the case of a third or subsequent offence, under Rule 55.1  . . . twelve (12) months and until the completion of a Satisfactory Trial.

“Mar or Marring” is defined as “the action of a Greyhound in voluntarily turning the head so as to make head or muzzle contact with another Greyhound”.

At the commencement of the hearing, the Committee asked Stipendiary Steward, Rick Quirk to show the available video replays of the race and point out the runners, MR MUPPET and GORILLA’S SMILE. MR MUPPET started from Box 1 and GORILLA’S SMILE started from Box 2 at the 295 metres starting point.

SUBMISSIONS OF THE APPLICANT:

1. The relevant part of the Race was when the dog jumped from the boxes and made contact with the dog that had drawn Box 2, GORILLA’S SMILE, Mr McInerney said.

2.  Mr McInerney then showed a replay of MR MUPPET’s previous start on 21 February, a lower-grade (Class 1) race in which it had also drawn Box 1. MR MUPPET had won this race and the race under review was a Class 2 race, Mr McInerney said.

3.  Mr McInerney pointed out that MR MUPPET had jumped well and “ran straight across”. This is the way it races, he said. The dogs drawn in Boxes 2, 3 and 4 had not jumped as well as he did. MR MUPPET then “collected” the dog that had jumped from Box 5. The Stewards’ Report stated that it had “ran outwards early stages contacting HOMEBUSH POPPY”.

4.  Mr McInerney then referred to the wording of Rule that marring involved “voluntarily turning the head so as to make head or muzzle contact with another Greyhound”. He submitted that MR MUPPET had not voluntarily turned his head but, rather, had run straight outwards. There was no turning of the head, it was just the dog’s “running style”.

5.  In summary, Mr McInerney said that MR MUPPET wants to get wide and, in this race, had encountered dogs that were faster away than in the race on 21 February. It had not voluntarily turned its head but had just run with his whole body outwards against dogs of similar quality.

SUBMISSIONS ON BEHALF OF STEWARDS:

1.  Stipendiary Steward, Rick Quirk, said that MR MUPPET was there for one purpose only – to chase the lure, being programmed to do this from early in its life. A dog that mars another runner during a race is deemed to be not committed to its sole purpose of racing.

2.  In the race in question, MR MUPPET has angled its head and body outwards from the start, making contact with No. 2, GORILLA’S SMILE. Mr Quirk demonstrated on the video replay that contact had been made on two occasions. On the second occasion, GORILLA’S SMILE had run in slightly, he said, However, he stressed that GORILLA’S SMILE had kept a straight line straight out of the boxes. It had not moved in at all, he submitted. All of the movement had come from MR MUPPET, whose sole intention was not to chase the lure but to run outwards and it is focussed on GORILLA’S SMILE from the beginning of the race. He said that the Committee should note that MR MUPPET continued to be focussed on GORILLA’S SMILE all the way down the back straight.

3.  In the race on 21 February MR MUPPET had run out, as it tends to do, but the difference was that there was no head or muzzle contact with the No. 5 dog, HOMEBUSH POPPY. Had the first contact been with the head or muzzle on that occasion, then it would be deemed to have been guilty of marring. That dog had run inwards, so there was some interference prior to the contact.

4.  The hearing then viewed, at the Committee’s request, MR MUPPET’s last marring breach in a race on 25 February 2021. It was agreed that the circumstances of that breach were quite different and had no relevance to this breach. Mr McInerney said that the Applicant had taken over the training of MR MUPPET since that race.

THE APPLICANT’S SUMMING UP:

1.  Mr McInerney submitted that, as a wide-running greyhound, MR MUPPET, poorly drawn on this occasion in a higher class field, just wanted to get to the outside. The dog had not voluntarily turned its head – it just wanted off to the middle of the track as it had done in its previous start on 21 February and, indeed, in all of its starts, he said.

DISCUSSION:

In reply to a question from the Committee regarding the angle of a dog’s head, Mr Quirk said that, if the first point of contact with another dog is on the head, it follows that its head must have been turned away from the rest of its body

Mr McInerney explained that, in every race, some dogs will come down towards the rail and the wide runners will go out. This is what results in interference in Greyhound Racing, he said.

Mr Quirk said that it was accepted that some dogs will run out but, when a dog does run out, and has a look and actually turns its head and makes the contact, that is when Stewards will take action.

Mr McInerney then asked Mr Quirk to show the point at which, he believed, MR MUPPET actually voluntarily turned its head. Mr Quirk showed the head-on video replay again and said that the head’s angle was different from the body. It then got to GORILLA’S SMILE, had a lunge and made contact. Mr McInerney said that the dog had worn blinkers and, if it  had voluntarily turned its head, the muzzle would be turned out because it would otherwise have been unable to see GORILLA’S SMILE. Mr Quirk pointed out that GORILLA’S SMILE was a half-length ahead of MR MUPPET, who would, therefore, have been able to see it. Mr McInerney said that MR MUPPET would have only been able to see it in a straight line so if it had voluntarily turned its head, it would have had to have turned its head out to make the contact. Mr Quirk said it could be seen that MR MUPPET  was looking straight at GORILLA’S SMILE. If a dog is looking for the lure, it will always have its head turned inwards. MR MUPPET’s head was certainly not looking at the lure, Mr Quirk said. Mr McInerney said that if, as Mr Quirk had said, MR MUPPET had been looking straight at GORILLA”S SMILE, then it followed that it had not turned its head. Mr Quirk again showed the head-on video replay and alleged that, on at least three occasions, the head was turned away from the rest of the body.

REASONS FOR DECISION:

1.  MR MUPPET was deemed to have marred during  its race at Addington Raceway on 25 February 2022 and was stood down by Stewards for 12 months under Rule 55.1 (e), it being that dog’s third marring offence.

2.  The Trainer, John McInerney, has asked the Committee to review that decision of Stewards on the ground that he did not agree with the Stewards’ decision and did not agree that MR MUPPET had marred during the Race.

3.  The Committee is aware of the significance of this review. A 12-months stand down can often mean the end of a Greyhound’s racing career.

4.  The Applicant was represented at the hearing by John McInerney jnr, who presented the Applicant’s case very eloquently.

5.  The essence of the Applicant’s case was that MR MUPPET had not voluntarily turned its head and, therefore, had not been guilty of marring. “Marring” is defined as a Greyhound “voluntarily turning its head so as to make head or muzzle contact with another Greyhound”. It was not contended that head or muzzle contact had not been made.

6.  Mr McInerney submitted that MR MUPPET had not voluntarily turned its head but had run straight outwards, with no turning of its head. This was the way the dog raced, he said.

7.  To illustrate the point, Mr McInerney showed to the hearing MR MUPPET’s previous race from Addington, only a few days earlier, in which it had drawn Box 1, as it had done in the race under review, and had run wide at the start, eventually making shoulder contact with the dog that had jumped from Box 5. He conceded that this race was against a lesser-class field of Class 1 Greyhounds.

8.  In the race under review, Mr McInerney submitted, MR MUPPET again wanted to get wide, but against Class 2 dogs it was not able to do so and had run with its whole body outwards, against dogs of similar quality.

9.  Mr Quirk, on behalf of the Stewards, argued that MR MUPPET had angled its head and body outwards from the jump, twice making contact with GORILLA’S SMILE which had kept a straight line out of the boxes. He submitted that MR MUPPET was not chasing the lure but his intention was to run outwards, focussed on GORILLA’S SMILE.

10. It is now the task of this Committee to decide whether the decision of the raceday Stewards at the race meeting on at Addington 25 February 2022 was correct. Had MR MUPPET voluntarily turned its head and made head or muzzle contact with GORILLA’S SMILE? If so, its actions amounted to “marring” and the Stewards’ decision was correct.

11.  Head-on and side-on video replays of the start of the 295 metres race were carefully viewed and, first, Mr McInerney, and then, Mr Quirk, gave his interpretation.

12.  The side-on video clearly showed that, after two or three strides, GORILLA’S SMILE was a 1/2 length in front of MR MUPPET. In the earlier race, which Mr McInerney showed us, a lower class race he told us, MR MUPPET had jumped in front. Mr McInerney showed us this race to support his submission that MR MUPPET had a tendency to run wide from the jump. In the final analysis, we are not satisfied that the earlier race is helpful to us. Of course, we must focus on the race under review.

13. In doing that, the Committee is satisfied that, a stride after jumping from its Box 1, MR MUPPET has run out. This is consistent with Mr McInerney’s argument. However, immediately after jumping, virtually from its first stride, it focuses on GORILLA’S SMILE to its outside. With what we find is its head turned out and away from the lure, it makes clear head or muzzle contact with that dog on not one but at least two occasions.

14. The Committee is satisfied that this is a clear case in which MR MUPPET has been guilty of marring as found by the Stewards on the raceday.

15.  The Committee records its appreciation for the very clear and helpful way that each party presented his submissions, which were of assistance to the Committee in arriving at its determination.

CONCLUSION:

The Applicant’s application for review is dismissed and the raceday decision of the Stewards to stand down the Greyhound, MR MUPPET, for marring is upheld.

Decision Date: 24/03/2022

Publish Date: 28/03/2022