Hawkes Bay R 3 July 2021 – R 5 – Shaun Phelan

ID: RIB3273

Shaun Phelan - Trainer

Mr J Oatham - Chief Stipendiary Steward

Mrs N Moffatt, Mr T Castles

Information Number:

Decision Type:
Adjudicative Decision





Race Date:

Race Club:
Hawkes Bay Race Club

Race Location:
Hawkes Bay Racecourse - 300 Prospect Road, Raureka, Hastings, 4122

Race Number:

Hearing Date:

Hearing Location:

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Trainer S Phelan fined $800


Mr Oatham lodged an Information with the Adjudicators alleging a breach of Rule 340 in that S Phelan misconducted himself making inappropriate comments of a racial nature in a telephone interview live on Trackside TV regarding the stable runner in Race 5 BIG MIKE.

Rule 340 reads:

A Licensed Person, Owner, lessee, Racing Manager, Official or other person bound by these Rules must not misconduct himself in any matter relating to the conduct of Races or racing.

 At the outset of the hearing, Mr Phelan confirmed he understood the Rule and he admitted the breach.

Mr Oatham explained that Mr Phelan co-trains the horse BIG MIKE in partnership with his father Craig Phelan. Prior to Race 5 he was interviewed  by Aiden Rodley via telephone going live to Trackside TV. Mr Oatham played part of that interview.

Yea, as long as the track today is on that better side of slow, if its not the holding side -the only worry the big boy can’t get his feet. When he can’t get his feet out of the ground he just, he’s got a bit of Maori in him and doesnt feel like having a go….”

Mr Phelan agreed completely that what he said was inappropriate adding that he is himself part-Maori. The interview took place in the Jockeys’ room while he was getting ready for the race, and in that situation he said  “you tend to forget that phone interviews are going live on TV”.

Reason for Decision:

Mr Phelan admitted the breach, therefore the charge was deemed proved.

Submission for Penalty:

Mr Oatham was invited to make submissions on penalty. He said Mr Phelan had a clear record in regard to the Misconduct Rule. He had been an Apprentice Rider and has held a Jumps License for many years. More recently he has become a Licensed Trainer out of Cambridge in partnership with his father. This incident was out of character for him.

Mr Oatham knew of no other similar precedent cases. The closest was a Jockey in the South Island who had been suspended for 2 days for making a racial comment to a fellow Rider.  Misconduct charges in the past have more commonly attracted monetary penalties, and the Stewards were seeking such today. Mr Oatham said they did not condone anything of a racial nature in racing and submitted that a fine of not less than $1000 would be appropriate.

Mr Phelan said the penalty had to be such that neither he nor anyone else in the Racing Industry made the same mistake in the future. It was a wakeup call for him to be more careful and to remember that everything can be recorded. It was not a good look for him or his business. Mr Phelan said that as he made the comments in his capacity as the Trainer of the horse (not the Rider) he didn’t think it would be fair to impose a suspension of his Rider’s license.

Reason for Penalty

Racially offensive comments are not acceptable in any format and the Committee takes them seriously, regardless of circumstance. The comments made by Mr Phelan on live televison were insensitive, inappropriate and thoughtless. Not only has this reflected poorly on him, but also on the Racing Industry in general.

Mr Phelan instantly recognised that his comments were racially offensive and wholly unacceptable. He was contrite, did not attempt to downplay his comments, and accepted that he must be held to account.

The Misconduct Rule covers a wide range of behaviour, and penalties imposed are fact dependent.

We adopted a starting point of $1000.

Mr Phelan has a clear record, admitted the breach at the earliest opportunity, and made no attempt to defend his actions. We are satisfied that he will  not make the same mistake again. If Mr Phelan had failed to recognise or understand the gravity of his comments the fine would have been much higher.

Taking into account all factors it is our opinion that a monetary penalty of $800 is appropriate.


Accordingly Mr Phelan is fined the sum of $800.

Decision Date: 03/07/2021

Publish Date: 06/07/2021