Nelson HRC 12 January 2024 – R11- (heard 14 January 2024 at Nelson) – Robbie Close

ID: RIB37597

Robbie Close - Driver

Paul Williams - Stipendiary Steward

Stewart Ching (Chair)

Persons Present:
Paul Williams - Stipendiary Steward, Robbie Close - Open Driver

Information Number:

Decision Type:
Race Related Charge

Breach of Whip Rule

869(2) - Contravention whip rule


Animal Name:


Race Date:

Race Club:
Nelson Harness Racing Club

Race Location:
Nelson Racecourse - 358 Lower Queen Street, Nelson, 7020

Race Number:

Hearing Date:

Hearing Location:

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Driver Robbie Close is fined $400

Summary of Facts:

This was an adjourned hearing from the Nelson Harness Racing Club Meeting on 12 January 2024.

Following the running of Race 11, the Respondent Driver Robbie Close admitted a breach of Whip Rule 869 (2).  The particulars of the charge are that when driving SOCIAL DISTANCING he used his whip with more than a wrist flicking motion in the run home.

Rule 869 provides that:

(2) No driver shall during any race use a whip in a manner in contravention of the Use of the Whip Regulations made by the Board.

Stipendiary Steward Paul Williams used available video footage to demonstrate the breach. He pointed out Mr Close driving SOCIAL DISTANCING racing in the trail of the leader, on the pylons, as the field turned for home. Mr Williams showed that Mr Close moved into the passing lane, before drawing his whip and using it with more than a wrist flicking motion on 9 to 10 occasions in the run home. He added that Mr Close mixed up his whip use, but the offence continued over more than 100m, which puts the breach into the mid range.

Mr Close concurred that he should have broken up his whip use, which may have avoided him being charged. 


The charge is admitted and therefore proved.

Submissions for Penalty:

Mr Williams stated that Mr Close’s driving statistics showed 24 drives to date this season, with 532 last season. He produced the Respondent’s record, which indicated a previous warning at Rangiora within the last 2 months, but apart from that warning, Mr Close had a clear record. Mr Williams added that Mr Close had admitted the breach at the first opportunity, which was to his credit.

Mr Williams said that Stewards assessed the breach to be on the cusp of mid range, with the Penalty Guide providing a $500 fine or a 2 day suspension starting point.

Mr Close submitted that he would prefer a fine as penalty. He added that a fine of between $300 and $400 would be a suitable level of penalty, in his opinion.

Reasons for Penalty:

After consideration of the evidence from all parties concerned and viewing the race films of the concluding stages of the race, the Adjudicative Committee assessed the breach as mid-level due to the number of strikes with more than a wrist flicking motion, and that the offence had continued on over 100m.

The Penalty Guide provides a $500 fine or a 2-day suspension starting point for a mid range first breach of this Rule.

After consideration of the penalty submissions from Mr Close, it was determined that a fine was an appropriate penalty in this case.

It was determined that there were no aggravating factors to consider, therefore no uplift warranted.

There were however, mitigating factors to consider, being Mr Close’s good record and his frank admission of the breach, which warranted a combined discount. This discount was set at $100.

The Adjudicative Committee therefore determined that a $400 fine was an appropriate penalty in this case.


Mr Close is fined the sum of $400.

Decision Date: 14/01/2024

Publish Date: 15/01/2024