Non Raceday Inquiry – Decision dated 19 July 2022 – Rudy Liefting

ID: RIB10048

Rudy Liefting - Trainer

Mr Oscar Westerlund, Racing Investigator

Geoff Hall

Persons Present:
on the papers

Information Number:

Decision Type:
Non-race Related Charge

entering wrong horse at trials



Animal Name:


Race Number:

Hearing Date:

Hearing Location:
on the papers

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Trainer Rudy Liefting is fined $700

The charge

[1] Information Number 16411 alleges:

“On Tuesday 10 May 2022, Mr Rudy Liefting was the Trainer and person responsible for the nomination and presentation of the unnamed 2 year old colt (MOVE FASTER – REVOKED) to compete in Heat 17 at the trials meeting conducted by the Avondale Jockey Club at Avondale, when upon inspection, it was found to be the incorrect colt, being a breach of cl 4(a) of the Third Appendix (Regulation for Trials) and r 404(2) of the Rules of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR), and that Mr Rudy Liefting is therefore liable to the penalty or penalties that may be imposed pursuant to r 803(1) of the said rules.”

[2] The Respondent in this matter, Mr Liefting, is the holder of a Class A Trainers’ licence issued by NZTR. He has signed the Information admitting the breach and has agreed that the Adjudicative Committee can deal with the matter on the papers without a formal oral hearing.

The Rules

[3] The relevant Rules provide:

Rule 404(2) A person shall not enter, accept, start or intend to start a horse in a Race or trial (including a jump-out or test for certification purposes) under a name other than its registered name or its recorded breeding details in the case of an unnamed horse that is entered for or starts in a trial.

Rule 803(1) A person who, or body or other entity which, commits or is deemed to have committed a breach of these Rules or any of them for which a penalty is not provided elsewhere in these Rules shall be liable to: (a) be disqualified for a period not exceeding 12 months; and/or (b) be suspended from holding or obtaining a Licence for a period not exceeding 12 months. If a Licence is renewed during a term of suspension, then the suspension shall continue to apply to the renewed Licence; and/or (c) a fine not exceeding $20,000.

The facts

[4] On 10 May 2022, Mr Liefting was the person responsible for the nomination and presentation of an unnamed 2-year-old colt (MOVE FASTER – REVOKED) to compete in Heat 17 at the trials meeting conducted by the Avondale Jockey Club at Avondale.

[5] After nominations were verified, Stipendiary Stewards in attendance obtained the identification sheets from NZTR. The “MOVE FASTER – REVOKED colt is recorded as having brands – Left Shoulder PW over Bar and Right Shoulder 5 over 9.

[6] Upon inspection by the Stewards prior to the commencement of racing it was found that the colt presented by Mr Liefting was branded – Left Shoulder PW over a Bar and Right Shoulder 6 over 9.

[7] The horse was then checked using a microchip scanner and it was confirmed that the horse presented was not the 2-year-old colt (MOVE FASTER – REVOKED). Checks with NZTR confirmed that the horse presented was in fact the 2-year-old colt (MOVE FASTER – SKYEWITHDIAMONDS). The horse was subsequently scratched from the Trial.

[8] Subsequent enquiries have confirmed that Mr Liefting had bred the two horses mentioned. They were stabled at his property until a year ago when the unnamed 2-year-old colt (MOVE FASTER – REVOKED) was given to a friend.

[9] Mr Liefting was spoken to by an Investigator, and he admitted entering the wrong horse at the trials and in explanation stated that he had just mistakenly given the wrong horse details. He has always had the unnamed 2-year-old colt (MOVE FASTER – SKYEWITHDIAMONDS) at his stables.

Informant’s submissions as to penalty

[10] The Informant submitted the four principles of sentencing were punishment; deterrence; disapproval of the type of offending; and rehabilitation. The first three principles were said to have relevance in this matter.

[11] The Adjudicative Committee was referred to previous decisions: RIU v Liefting (2020 – Thoroughbred) — $400 fine; RIU v Court (2019 – Harness) – $500 fine; RIU v Bridge (2015 – Thoroughbred) – $500 fine; and RIU v Tiley (2013 – Thoroughbred) – $450 fine.

[12] Mitigating factors were that the Respondent had admitted the breach; had been fully co-operative throughout the process; and that the race meeting was a trial meeting (where horses may be unnamed and attend for education) as opposed to an actual race meeting.

[13] Aggravating features were that it was the responsibility of the Trainer to nominate and present the correct horse at the Trial, and this was the second occasion that the Respondent had committed a similar breach of the Rules. His first breach was in December 2020.

[14] The Informant also submitted that the relevant purposes and considerations were helpfully stated in the Appeals Tribunal decision in RIU v L (13 May 2019) where proceedings under the Rules of Harness Racing were said to be “designed not simply to punish the transgressor, but crucially are to protect the profession/public/industry/ and those who are to deal with the profession.”

[15] The RIB believed that breaches of the Rules should be penalised, and that the penalty should reflect the Industry’s clean racing image and remind participants of their obligations under the Rules and precedents set.

[16] The RIB submitted that the breach could be dealt with by way of a fine and that this be in the sum of $600.

Respondent’s submissions as to penalty

[17] Mr Liefting did not address the nature or quantum of penalty that he believed was appropriate but he explained the reason for the breach. While this description does not differ markedly from that described in the summary of facts, it provides more detail by way of background to the breach.

[18] Mr Liefting explained that the mistake he had made was not one of presenting the wrong horse, but rather in his entering the colt using the wrong dam’s name. Usually this would have been picked up on entry, he said, but unfortunately the year the colt was born, was the year they had the two mares served by the same stallion.

[19] He said the confusion stemmed from when they first bought two Australian bred mares from the NZB Broodmare sales a few years ago and, when delivered, the name tags were switched over. For the next two years, the Stable believed the one to be SKYEWITHDIAMONDS and the other to be REVOKED, with the mistake only being realised when the DNA results of the foals were registered. Rather than the foals having been swapped, it was the mares that had been. They had already been served by the next stallions at that stage. The other colt was not broken in nor pursued with for racing and was given away for equestrian activities.

[20] Mr Liefting commented that he had entered the wrong breeding rather than presenting the wrong horse to trial. By this the Adjudicative Committee takes the Respondent to mean that the horse that was intended to be trialled was the horse that was in fact taken to the trial and the mistake was with respect to the breeding of that horse. This, notwithstanding, the horse presented to trial was the MOVE FASTER – SKYEWITHDIAMONDS colt and not the MOVE FASTER– REVOKED colt.


[21] The Respondent, Mr Liefting, is a Class ‘A’ Licensed Trainer under the New Zealand Rules of Thoroughbred Racing. He has been involved in the racing industry all his adult life and has been a Class A Trainer for 22 years.

[22] He has entered the wrong horse to race in Heat 17 at the trials meeting conducted by the Avondale Jockey Club at Avondale on 10 May 2022 due to his misunderstanding as to the breeding of the brood mare of the 2-year-old colt that was taken to race. He has presented at the Trial the MOVE FASTER – SKYEWITHDIAMONDS colt and not the MOVE FASTER– REVOKED colt that he had nominated.

[23] As the Respondent has admitted the breach, it is found to be proved.


[24] The Informant has identified comparator cases. The fines in these cases range from $400 to $500 for a first breach of the rule. The JCA Penalty Guide 1 August 2018, provides a starting point of $800. The former Penalty Guide had a similar starting point. This starting point is referenced in some but not all of these cases. Mitigating factors have reduced the fine to a figure below that $800 starting point and the Judicial Committees have also correctly noted the need for consistency.

[25] The Respondent has a previous breach of this Rule in December 2020 when the penalty imposed was a fine of $400. On that occasion Mr Liefting had purchased two horses on behalf of owners in January 2020, a VADAMOS filly and a TURN ME LOOSE filly. They were stabled at his premises until March 2020. Thereafter they were stabled at the owner’s property. On 2 August 2020 the owner delivered the VADAMOS filly to Mr Liefting to commence full training. He thought that it was the TURN ME LOOSE filly and told this to Mr Liefting. In fact it was the VADAMOS filly, and it was this horse that was presented at the trial and incorrectly said to be the TURN ME LOOSE filly. Mr Liefting had taken the word of the owner that the horse delivered to him and which he was training was the TURN ME LOOSE filly and was shocked by the mistake.

[26] The Adjudicative Committee believes the most relevant sentencing principles applicable in this case are deterrence from making such an error, both general (other Trainers) and specific (the Respondent), and the need to reflect the disapproval of the Code for the repeated breach and to uphold the integrity of Thoroughbred Racing. The error was not deliberate, but the previous penalty was evidently not sufficient to ensure that the Respondent checked, and perhaps double-checked, that the breeding of the horse in his stable was in fact what he believed or had been led to believe it was. There is a crucial obligation on Trainers to exercise extreme care in identifying the horses they train and nominate, especially with unnamed horses. All Trainers have to understand that a breach of this Rule, and the duty of care necessary, will carry with it a significant penalty.

[27] The Informant correctly identified as mitigating factors that Mr Liefting has been fully cooperative throughout the investigation, has admitted the breach (although any defence would appear to have been futile), and that the race meeting was a trial meeting (where horses may be unnamed and attend for education) as opposed to an actual race meeting, so no actual harm to others, such as the betting public, has occurred. The Adjudicative Committee also observes that the Respondent is a prominent, experienced Trainer.

[28] The starting point for a second breach has to be above the $800 stated in the Penalty Guide for a first breach and this figure is increased to $1000. In fixing a proportionate penalty the Adjudicative Committee has taken into account these mitigating factors, the lengthy period of time that Mr Liefting has been a well-respected Trainer, and the fact that Mr Liefting was misled by the misdescription of the two colts when they were delivered from the NZB Broodmare sales with switched name tags. The colts, of course, had different brandings, and it would have been a relatively simple matter for Mr Liefting to have checked these. But the Adjudicative Committee can understand how he made the error that he has on this occasion.

[29] A fine at a level beyond the range of $400 to $500 that has been imposed for a first breach is clearly appropriate. The fine is one of $700, which is intended to provide the required deterrence to other Trainers to exercise extreme care and to reinforce to the Respondent the nature of his obligations under the Rules of Racing. Two breaches of this Rule in the space of 18 months, is two too many breaches. This disapproval must be reflected in the penalty.

[30] The matter was heard on the papers. There is no order for costs.

Decision Date: 19/07/2022

Publish Date: 21/07/2022