Kaikoura TC 29 October 2023 – R8 (heard 1 November 2023 at Methven) – Gemma Thornley

ID: RIB29273

Gemma Thornley - Junior Driver

Shane Renault, Stipendiary Steward

Russell McKenzie

Information Number:

Decision Type:
Race Related Charge

Careless Driving Striking a Wheel

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


Animal Name:
Poetry In Motion


Race Date:

Race Club:
Kaikoura Trotting Club

Race Location:
Kaikoura Racecourse - , ,

Race Number:

Hearing Date:

Hearing Location:
Mt Harding Racecourse, Methven

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Junior Driver, Gemma Thornley, fined $250.

Following the running of Race 8, Gameson Racing Stables / Fissenden Bros Mobile Pace, an Information was filed by Stipendiary Steward, Shane Renault, against Licensed Junior Driver, Gemma Thornley, alleging that, as the Driver of POETRY IN MOTION in the race, she drove carelessly when striking the wheel of BIG MAMA MORRIS near the 250 metres.

The Information was filed with the Adjudicative Committee on Raceday and adjourned. It was heard at the meeting of Methven TC at Mt Harding Racecourse on 1 November 2023.

The Respondent, a Junior Driver, informed the Adjudicative Committee that, prior to entering a plea to the charge, she had received assistance from Open Driver, Craig Thornley.

The Respondent had endorsed the Information “I do admit a breach of the rule” and she confirmed this at the hearing.

Rule 869 provides:

(3)   No driver shall in any race drive:-

       (b)   carelessly.


Mr Renault showed video replays of the incident, as the field turned into the final straight. He pointed out BIG MAMA MORRIS, driven by Sarah O’Reilly, racing in the trail (in a gap) behind the leader, KRYSTAL DELIGHT (Ben Hope). POETRY IN MOTION, driven by the Respondent, was racing behind BIG MAMA MORRIS, three places back on the markers.

Mr Renault showed that the Respondent was held up for a run rounding the bend behind Ms O’Reilly. She shifted ground inwards. Ms O’Reilly could be seen to turn her head inwards at the point of contact and her inside sulky wheel could be seen to shudder. From that point, the tyre did deflate. Consequences were minimal, Mr Renault said. The near front leg of POETRY IN MOTION had struck the wheel.

The Respondent said that Ms O’Reilly was slightly away from the markers. Her own horse had been running out most of the way and had shifted down too soon.


The charge having been admitted, it is deemed proved.


Mr Renault said that the Respondent has had 190 drives this season and has a clear record under the Rule. He referred the Adjudicative Committee to the Penalty Guide starting point for the breach of a fine of $300 and submitted that, having regard to the Respondent’s record, her admission of the breach and her Junior Driver status, a fine of $250 would be an appropriate penalty.

Mr Renault submitted that there were minimal consequences as BIG MAMA MORRIS finished 3rd (POETRY IN MOTION finished 4th) and the chances of the former were not affected.


The RIB Harness Racing Penalty Guide (February 2023) provides a starting point for a first breach of “any time driver hits wheel” of a $300 fine. The Guide goes on to provide that “the consequences of this action go to penalty”. The Adjudicative Committee was satisfied that there were no significant consequences.

Having regard to that, and having regard to the mitigating factors referred to by Mr Renault, the Adjudicatiave Committee decided that a fine of $250 was appropriate.


The Respondent, Junior Driver, Gemma Thornley, was fined $250.

Decision Date: 01/11/2023

Publish Date: 03/11/2023