Hororata TC 12 February 2023 – R2 – Colin DeFilippi
Hororata Trotting Club
Methven Racecourse - 47 Mount Hutt Station Road, Methven, 7782
Mt Harding Racecourse, Methven
Penalty: Driver, Colin DeFilippi, fined $400
Following the running of Race 2, Chris Jones – “Buy Kiwi Made” – Trevor Beaton Memorial Mobile Pace, the Respondent Driver, Colin DeFilippi, as the Driver of LADY VINCENT in the race, denied a charge that he misconducted himself prior to the start when kicking that horse in the abdomen on one occasion.
Rule 303 provides:
(2) No person or body who holds a permit or licence under these Rules and no owner, trainer, breeder, stablehand, unlicensed apprentice or racing manager shall misconduct himself . . .
Stipendiary Steward, Paul Williams, showed a video replay of the Trackside 1 channel coverage of an incident prior to the start of the race. The horse was being held by two Starter’s Assistants and the Respondent was attending to something on the off side of the horse. Mr DeFilippi raised his leg and, it was the Stewards’ allegation, kicked the horse in the stomach. He alleged that the stomach of the horse could be seen to react as contact was made. This action was improper, Mr Williams alleged, and the Respondent had thereby misconducted himself. The incident had been shown on the Trackside channel, he said. It was a deliberate act, even if only intended to calm the horse down.
The Respondent said that the filly had lost both earplugs in the preliminary and he was attempting to put them back in. She had been “stirred up, but not nasty” and his intention was to touch her on the stomach to stop her from shaking her head. The kick was with no force and, he submitted, contacted the hopple but made no contact with the horse. He accepted that his actions did not look good.
Starter’s Assistant, Neil Macdonald, showed a cut on his forearm that had been sustained while holding the filly. He said he had been holding the filly as she kept throwing her head around, and his arm had been cut by a sharp edge of the bridle. He believed that the Respondent had not been aware of the injury.
The charge is found proved.
REASONS FOR DECISION:
The Adjudicative Committee was not satisfied that it had been shown that the Respondent’s foot had made contact with the horse. However, the intention had been there, as the Respondent has admitted. The Adjudicative Committee accepts the Respondent’s explanation that his actions were well-meaning, and it was clear from the video evidence that the filly was proving difficult.
Notwithstanding that the Adjudicative Committee finds that the Respondent had not actually kicked the horse and that his intentions were good, his actions were improper and unacceptable and the Adjudicative Committee finds that he has misconducted himself. “Misconduct” is simply improper behaviour.
SUBMISSIONS FOR PENALTY:
Mr Williams referred the Adjudicative Committee to the Penalty Guide. The starting point for a breach of the Rule is suggested as a fine of $600, but is referred to as being “fact dependent”. The Respondent, if he did not contact the horse, has attempted to do so. The Respondent has a clear record and has cooperated throughout the pre-hearing, Mr Williams said.
Mr Williams submitted that a fine in the vicinity of $500 is an appropriate penalty. He submitted the charge is a serious one.
REASONS FOR PENALTY:
The Adjudicative Committee noted that the RIB Penalty Guide (effective 1 February 2023) suggests that the penalty is “fact dependent”, with a starting point of a fine of $600.
The Adjudicative Committee was not able to find a case in the Harness Code with similar facts to assist it in deciding penalty. However, a fine of $400 was imposed on a Jockey, in a recent Australian case, for kicking a horse in the stomach at a trials meeting. This is of some assistance, but the Adjudicative Committee is not aware of the full facts in that case. New Zealand cases are in the Thoroughbred Code. In a November 2020 case, a Jockey received a fine of $500 for striking his horse with the whip three times behind the starting barrier. That was a second breach. In October 2021, another Jockey was fined $350 for striking his mount twice in the birdcage post-race.
While the Adjudicative Committee accepts that no harm was done to the horse, such actions being shown on nationwide television coverage (an aggravating factor) do raise obvious animal welfare concerns and, therefore, cannot be condoned, but rather must be viewed seriously. Fortunately, such incidents are rare. At the same time, the Adjudicative Committee accepts that the case also involves Driver safety issues.
Having regard to the Penalty Guide and the penalties in the previous cases referred to, the Respondent Driver, Colin DeFilippi, is fined $400.
Decision Date: 14/02/2023
Publish Date: 14/02/2023