Hororata TC 12 February 2023 – R4 – Gavin Smith

ID: RIB15584

Gavin Smith - Driver

Paul Williams, Stipendiary Steward

Russell McKenzie

Information Number:

Decision Type:
Race Related Charge

Careless Driving

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

Not Admitted

Animal Name:
James Cagney


Race Date:

Race Club:
Hororata Trotting Club

Race Location:
Methven Racecourse - 47 Mount Hutt Station Road, Methven, 7782

Race Number:

Hearing Date:

Hearing Location:
Mt Harding Racecourse, Methven

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Driver, Gavin Smith, suspended 3 days


Following the running of Race 4, Philip Wareings Limited (Contractors) Mobile Pace, the Respondent, Open Driver Gavin Smith, as the Driver of JAMES CAGNEY in the race, denied a charge that he drove carelessly racing into the first bend by shifting ground inwards in an abrupt manner when contesting a position with VERY KIWI (Robbie Holmes).

THE Respondent endorsed the Information “I do not admit a breach of the Rule” and he confirmed he understood the Rule and the nature of the charge.

Rule 869 provides:

(3) (b) No driver in any race shall drive carelessly.


Stipendiary Steward, Shane Renault, showed video replays of the incident shortly after the start of the 2300 metres mobile start race. He pointed out JAMES CAGNEY, driven by the Respondent, which had drawn barrier position 5, and VERY KIWI, driven by Robbie Holmes, which had drawn barrier position 3 on the second row.

Mr Renault pointed out Mr Smith start moving down and, Stewards were alleging, he did so in an abrupt manner and continued to come down, making heavy contact with Mr Holmes’ runner, which broke shortly after. Stewards were alleging that the shift needed to be done in a gradual manner, allowing any runner to the inside the opportunity to accommodate the movement. Mr Smith’s movement was anything but gradual, Mr Renault submitted.

Mr Holmes said that , when Mr Smith came across, he was coming at an angle that was not normal. Mr Holmes said that, at that point, he might have had a slight advantage over Mr Smith. Mr Smith disputed that. Once contact was made, his horse had taken fright over the noise that the sulkies had made, Mr Holmes said, and broken. He felt that Mr Smith’s movement was “a bit abrupt”. He felt that he was entitled to hold his position, trailing the horse in front.

Mr Smith submitted that the “side-on” replay was unreliable, as it was not a true side-on, and may have given the impression that Mr Holmes held an advantage. Mr Smith accepted that he had come across two cart widths quite fast. He was able to cross quite easily. His runner had ducked in more than he anticipated. He accepted that his horse had contributed to what was, initially, “quite a bump”. The two horses had jostled for approximately 20 metres when he claimed he had an advantage, before Mr Holmes’ runner went rough and galloped, Mr Smith said. The actual easing down was not abrupt – he had come down slowly the last bit. Mr Holmes had kept going and tried to steer into him, when he was not entitled to.

Mr Williams said that it was the abruptness of Mr Smith’s movement that had led to Mr Holmes’ runner breaking.

The Respondent then said that he had to steer the horse across hard, it was running out, and, when he let the pressure go from its mouth, the horse had “ducked in worse” than when he was steering it down. He had not expected that, he said.


The charge is found proved.


The Adjudicative Committee listened to the evidence and submissions of the parties and carefully viewed the available video replays of the incident.

The first finding that the Adjudicative Committee makes, with reference to the Shifting Ground Regulation, is that Mr Smith at no stage had a “sufficient advantage” over Mr Holmes’ runner so that it could be moved in. Secondly, the Adjudicative Committee finds that the movement was not made in a “ gradual and acceptable manner”, enabling Mr Holmes to take action to accommodate the move.

Accordingly, the Adjudicative Committee finds that Mr Smith did not take the care of a reasonable and prudent Driver and has, therefore, driven carelessly.


Mr Williams said that the Respondent has a clear record. The Penalty Guide starting point is a 3-days suspension, which is appropriate in this case.

The Respondent sought a deferment until after racing at Rangiora on 18 February.


The RIB Penalty Guide (effective 1 February 2023) provides for a starting point for penalty of a 3-days suspension for careless driving. That starting point is uplifted by 1 day for the fact that Mr Holmes’ runner’s chances were extinguished in the incident. In mitigation, the Respondent has an excellent record under the Rule, warranting a discount of 1 day.


The Respondent’s application for a deferment is granted.  His licence to drive in races is suspended from after racing on 18 February 2023 up to and including 2 March 2023 – 3 days.

Decision Date: 12/02/2023

Publish Date: 14/02/2023