Non Raceday Inquiry – Decision dated 11 February 2022 – Jonny Cox

ID: RIB7332

Respondent(s):
Jonny Cox - Driver

Applicant:
Nigel McIntyre, Manager of Stewards

Adjudicators:
Russell McKenzie

Persons Present:
Mr McIntyre and the Respondent

Information Number:
A13344

Decision Type:
Adjudicative Decision

Charge:
Failing to take reasonable and permissible measures

Rule(s):
868(2) - Running of the Race

Plea:
Admitted

Animal Name:
Buena Vista

Code:
Harness

Race Date:
04/02/2022

Race Club:
NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club Inc

Race Location:
Addington Raceway - 75 Jack Hinton Drive, Addington, Christchurch, 8024

Race Number:
R8

Hearing Date:
11/02/2022

Hearing Location:
Addington Raceway, Christchurch

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Driver Jonny Cox suspended 5 days

BACKGROUND:

Mr Cox admitted a charge that, as the Driver of BUENA VISTA in Race 8, XCM Pace, he failed to take all reasonable and permissible measures to ensure BUENA VISTA was given full opportunity to win or obtain the best possible finishing position between the 2000 metres and 1200 metres when failing to ease the mare thereby giving respite so as to enable the mare to finish the race off.

The Information was heard at the meeting of NZ Metropolitan TC at Addington Raceway on 11 February 2022. Mr McIntyre produced an Authority to Charge signed by Mike Clement, Chief Executive of the Racing Integrity Board.

The Respondent had endorsed the Information “I do admit the breach of the Rule” and confirmed he understood the Rule and the nature of the charge. He further indicated that he wished the charge to be heard on this racenight.

Rule 868(2) provides:

Every driver shall take all reasonable and permissible measures at all times during the race to ensure that his horse is given full opportunity to win the race or to obtain the best possible position and/or finishing place.

EVIDENCE:

Mr McIntyre showed a video replay of the race. He pointed out BUENA VISTA, driven by Mr Cox, having drawn barrier position 9 (second from the outside) at the 2600 metres standing start. The mare began quickly and took an early lead. The concern of the Stewards, Mr McIntyre said, was from the 2000 metres when Mr Cox put a gap on the field. At that point, the following Drivers were not chasing, being aware that the speed of the race was fast. The lead-time was 1:14.4. Mr Cox should have been giving his horse some respite and, as a result of not doing so, he has denied his runner any opportunity to compete at the end of the race, Mr McIntyre said. Mr Cox said to Stewards on the night that when he looked at the large TV screen adjacent to the winning post with 1200 metres to run he said he was “in a world of hurt” when he saw the distance back to following runners. After realising the extent of his lead, Mr Cox did ease but it was too late and the horse was a spent force at that stage, Mr McIntyre said.

Mr Cox said that he had been instructed to keep the horse on the bit, it being a rough pacer, and “bowling along” but obviously he was asking too much. It was a lack of judgement on his part, he said. Sectionals of even 30’s were too quick for that horse, he admitted. He confirmed that he was unaware of the margin of his lead until he looked across at the big screen with 1200 metres to race.

BUENA VISTA eventually surrendered the lead with approximately 300 metres to run and stopped quickly. The Adjudicative Committee noted that BUENA VISTA finished 11th in the 12-horse field, 16.9 lengths from the winner.

DECISION:

The charge is admitted and therefore proved.

SUBMISSIONS FOR PENALTY:

In the current season (from 1 January), Mr Cox has had 46 drives, Mr McIntyre said. In the previous extended season, he had 656 drives. He has not been charged under the Rule previously.

The Penalty Guide starting point is 20 drives, Mr McIntyre said. Mr Cox averages approximately 3.3 drives per meeting so, on that basis, Stewards were seeking a penalty in the vicinity of 6 meetings, he said.

Mr Cox said that he wished any term of suspension to commence immediately.

REASONS FOR PENALTY:

Mr Cox has very frankly admitted the breach. He accepted that he was guilty of an error of judgement, which he clearly was on this occasion. This breach was totally out of character for him.

The Penalty Guide starting point for a breach of the Rule is 20 drives – in Mr Cox’s case approximately 6 meetings. That is the appropriate starting point in this case.

Mr Cox is entitled to a discount for his admission of the breach and excellent record. The Adjudicative Committee fixes this discount at 1 day.

CONCLUSION:

Mr Cox’s licence to drive in races is suspended for 5 days from after the conclusion of racing on 13 February 2022 up to and including 27 February 2022. The meetings intended to be included in the period of suspension are NZ Metropolitan TC on 18 February, Rangiora HRC on 19 February, NZ Metropolitan TC on 24 February, Ashburton TC on 26 February and Waikouaiti TC at Oamaru on 27 February.

Decision Date: 11/02/2022

Publish Date: 14/02/2022