Methven TC 28 January 2024 – R3 – Robbie Holmes

ID: RIB38272

Robert Dean Holmes - Driver

Shane Renault - Stipendiary Steward

Russell McKenzie

Information Number:

Decision Type:
Race Related Charge

Careless Driving

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

Not Admitted

Animal Name:
Lay On Macduff


Race Date:

Race Club:
Methven 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: Open Driver, Robbie Holmes, suspended 4 days


Following the running of Race 3, Kaiapoi Club Pace, Open Driver, Robbie Holmes, denied a charge that, as the Driver of LAY ON MACDUFF in the race, he “drove carelessly near the 500 metres by shifting ground outwards checking HENRY WINKLER (Mark Smolenski) and AMAZING TOM (Samantha Ottley).

Rule 869 provides as follows:

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

         (b)    carelessly.


Stipendiary Steward, Shane Renault, showed video replays of the incident, approximately 500 metres from the finish. He pointed out LAY ON MACDUFF, driven by the Respondent, racing four places back on the markers. HENRY WINKLER was racing behind LAY ON MACDUFF, in the one-out line and AMAZING TOM was racing in the 3-wide line.

Mr Renault said that BROMAC TIMES (Tim Williams), which had trailed the leader, was stopping and was taking LAY ON MADUFF back. The Respondent was looking to get off the markers. In the meantime, HENRY WINKLER had shifted into a gap between the Respondent and AMAZING TOM. He then showed that the Respondent shifted outwards in an attempt to clear the weakening runner and, Mr Renault alleged, as he did, he tightened HENRY WINKLER, forcing Mr Smolenski to check and “squeeze” Ms Ottley’s runner between HENRY WINKLER and HUGHES TWO ME (Robbie Close) on her outside, 4-wide. Ms Ottley was unable to relieve the pressure, having runners to her inside and outside, and was checked. The Respondent had an advantage over Mr Smolenski, but Ms Ottley had a runner outside and ahead of her and, therefore, the Respondent was not entitled to come out. Ms Ottley’s runner received a check.

The Respondent said that, when he commenced his manoeuvre, his horse’s head was already outside the helmet of Mr Williams on BROMAC TIMES, so he was no longer trailing, but Mr Smolenski had continued to drive his horse through, following another runner. He felt that there was room for him to make his manoeuvre, but Mr Smolenski had continued to drive his horse through a gap, which he submitted was not there, following another runner. In addition, he submitted, Ms Ottley was always out wide. At that stage of the race, he said, there were runners “retreating”, which contributed to the tightening. It did not help that his runner was “flat” and could not progress forward.

Asked by Mr Renault, the Respondent agreed that Ms Ottley, with another runner on her outside, had nowhere to go, but Mr Smolenski had not got into the gap, he said.

In summing up, Mr Renault submitted that the Respondent had driven carelessly in shifting outwards when being held up and wanting to get away from the markers. He had attempted a run to which he was not entitled, Mr Renault said.


The charge was found proved.


The Adjudicative Committee was comfortably satisfied that the Respondent had driven carelessly and, therefore, the charge was proved.

The Adjudicative Committee finds that he has attempted to clear the rapidly weakening runner, BROMAC TIMES, and has simply shifted out away from the markers without due care, and when not entitled to safely do so. Mr Smolenski had improved to his outside and the Respondent had an advantage to be able to push him out. However, Ms Ottley, to Mr Smolenski’s outside, was unable to be shifted wider on the track, as she had Mr Close (HUGHES TWO ME) outside and ahead of her. Ms Ottley was placed in tight quarters, resulting in her runner breaking from its gait and losing its chance.

In his position, the Respondent was not entitled to shift ground outward, as Mr Smolenski was not in a position to be moved outwards without causing interference to Ms Ottley (Shifting Ground Regulation).

The Respondent has not satisfied the Adjudicative Committee that he was able to make the move with safety, as required, in a gradual and acceptable manner, enabling the other Drivers to take the necessary action to accommodate the manoeuvre.


Mr Renault said that the Respondent has had 28 drives this season and, in the 2023 season, had a total of 313 drives.  He has a previous careless driving breach on 24 September 2023 – suspended 3 days at Addington.

The Penalty Guide starting point for a second breach is a 4-days suspension, Mr Renault said. It was an aggravating factor that Ms Ottley’s horse was checked and lost its chance, and he submitted that a suspension for 3-4 days would be an appropriate penalty.


This breach was a mid-level breach, with the consequences to Ms Ottley’s runner.

The RIB Harness Racing Penalty Guide (February 2023) suggests a starting point for a second breach of a 4-days suspension. That is for a mid-level breach. There are no relevant aggravating or mitigating factors to be considered and, therefore, a 4-days suspension is appropriate.


Open Driver, Robbie Holmes, is suspended from after the close of racing on 28 January 2024, up to and including 9 February 2024 – 4 days.

Decision Date: 28/01/2024

Publish Date: 31/01/2024