Non Raceday Inquiry – Written Decision dated 10 August 2022 – Rylee Ward

ID: RIB10391

Rylee Ward - Stablehand

Mr R Carr - RIB Racing Investigator

Mr G R Jones

Persons Present:
Nil - on the papers

Information Number:

Decision Type:
Non-race Related Charge

Prohibited Substance - Cannabis (THC)

656(3) - Prohibited substance


Animal Name:


Hearing Date:

Hearing Location:
On the papers

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Rylee Ward is suspended 6 weeks, with 1 week stayed subject to him meeting certain terms and conditions.


[1] This is the penalty decision arising from a charge lodged against Trainee Stablehand Rylee Ward (the “Respondent”) by Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) Investigator, Mr R Carr (the “Applicant”).

Particulars of the charge are that the Respondent:

On the 20 June 2022 at the Cambridge Jockey Club, having been required by a Racing Investigator to supply a sample of your urine in accordance with Rule 656(3) of the NZTR Rules of Racing, you provided urine which upon analysis was found to contain the controlled drugs – Cannabis (THC), being a Class C Controlled Drug as defined in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. Being in breach of rule 656(3) of the NZTR Rules of Racing and is therefore subject to the penalty imposed pursuant to Rule 803(3) of the rules (Information Number A17956 refers).

The Rule

[2] NZ Thoroughbred Rules (NZTR) of Racing (“the Rules”) relevant to this hearing are Rule 656(3), Rule 803(3) (Penalty provisions) and Rule 812.

Rule 656(3) provides that:

A Rider or any other Licence holder who has carried out, is carrying out or is likely to carry out, a Safety Sensitive Activity at a Racecourse, Training Facility or Trainer’s Premises, who, having been required by a Stipendiary Steward or Investigator to supply a sample in accordance with this Rule must not have a sample which is found upon analysis to contain any controlled drug as defined in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 or other illicit substance or diuretic and/or its metabolites, artefacts or isomers.

The Penalty Provisions

[3] Relevant penalty provisions include:

Subject to Rule 803(2)(b), where any Licence holder who has carried out, is carrying out, or is likely to carry out, a Safety Sensitive Activity at a Racecourse, Training Facility or Trainer’s Premises commits or is deemed to have committed a breach of these Rules related to drugs or alcohol and a penalty is not provided elsewhere in these Rules for that breach, that Licence holder committing the breach may:

(a) be disqualified for a period not exceeding 5 years; and/or

(b) be suspended from holding or obtaining a Licence for a period not exceeding 12 months; and/or

(c) be fined a sum not exceeding $50,000,

[4] Furthermore, in addition to any penalty that may be imposed the Adjudicative Committee at their discretion may impose the provisions of Rule 812 (see discussion under heading ‘Decision’).

Decision ‘On the Papers’

[5] The Respondent signed the Information acknowledging service of the relevant documents, his admission of the breach and his request for the hearing to be dealt with ‘on the papers’.

Rule 914 Provides that:

A defendant who does not appear at the hearing of the information may admit the breach of these Rules alleged in that information by giving written notice to the Adjudicative Committee that he does so and in such event the Adjudicative Committee shall have the same power to deal with him as if he had appeared before it and admitted that breach.

General Information

[6] Pursuant to Rule 903(2)(d) the RIB Chief Executive, Mr M Clement has authorised the filing of Information (Number A17956) alleging that Mr Ward was in breach Rule 656 (3) on the said date.

[7] Full particulars of the charge are contained within Information and at (Paragraph 1). The Information was served on the Respondent on 5 July 2022 and on 22 July 2022 he confirmed his admission of the breach and his request for the charge to be dealt with on the papers.

[8] The Respondent has admitted the charge.  It is therefore considered proved (Rule 915 (1)(d) applies).

Summary of Facts

The key salient points are as follows:

[9] The Respondent has a current application for a Trackwork Rider under the accreditation process with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing [NZTR] for a Trackwork Rider Licence [Class B Miscellaneous].

[10] NZTR Licencing say that applicants going through the Trackwork accreditation process, are deemed to hold Stablehand non-riding licenses until they have completed their Slow Work and then Fast Work qualifications.

[11] The Respondent was aged 17 years at the time of the breach.  He is now aged 18 years.

[12] The Respondent rides trackwork at the Cambridge Jockey Club training track in Cambridge.

[13] On Monday the 20 June 2022, Investigators from the Racing Integrity Board conducted routine drug screening at the Cambridge training track. The Respondent was seen in the tie ups with a horse in the process of either having completed or beginning riding track work. He was one of twelve people selected for testing who were performing a ‘safety sensitive activity’ that day.

[14] After being served with a Drug Testing Notification Form requesting, he present at the Drug Detection Agency (TDDA) van for an on-site test. He then presented himself at the TDDA van and supplied a urine sample.

[15] A TDDA Testing Official, together with the Respondent completed the appropriate documentation with him consenting to undertake drug screening.

[16] Post the initial screening, the RIB was advised that the test was non-negative with the initial sample screening positive to the presence of Cannabinoids [THC] in his urine.

[17] The Applicant consented for the sample to be packaged and sent to the Hill Laboratories for further analysis.

[18] When questioned as to the positive results for the controlled drug the Respondent admitted to smoking Cannabis, eight days prior at home. When questioned further about Cannabis usage he further admitted to consuming a ‘hash cookie’ on the Friday 17 June 2022, three days prior to the screening.

[19] On 27 June 2022, Hill Laboratories have provided RIB with a Certificate of Analysis for the Respondents urine sample confirmed the presence of THC – COOH [Cannabinoids], i.e., a positive for Cannabis.

[20] The Respondent has not previously breached the Rules of Racing.

Submissions as to Penalty – Applicant

In written penalty submissions on behalf of the RIB Mr Carr submitted that:

[21] The Respondent’s status as currently going through the accreditation process with NZTA has been confirmed.

[22] The Respondent is therefore considered to be a License holder (as required by the Rule) as NZTR treat an applicant who is going through the accreditation process as being the holder of a Stablehand (non-riding) Licence until they have completed their Slow Work and then Fast Work qualifications.

[23] All riders are aware of the policy and the consequences should they not comply. The testing is conducted to maintain a safe and healthy workplace and to maintain the integrity of the industry.

[24] The Respondent has admitted the breach, the details of which are contained in the Summary of Facts.

[25] THC (Cannabis) is a Class C controlled drug within the meaning of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.

Sentencing Principles

[26] The four principles of sentencing can be summarised briefly:

  • Penalties are designed to punish the offender for wrongdoing. They are not meant to be retributive in the sense the punishment is disproportionate to the offence, but the offender must be met with a punishment.
  • In a racing context it is extremely important that a penalty has the effect of deterring others from committing similar offences
  • A penalty should also reflect the disapproval of the RIB for the type of behaviour in question
  • The need to rehabilitate the offender should be taken into account.

[27] The RIB submits that all four principles apply in this matter.


[28] Historical penalties for breaches of the industry drug laws show some divergence dependent on the type of drug, the amount of the drug in the system and additional circumstances. In this case the reported THC level is 100ng/mL.

The following are decisions involving trackwork riders positive to THC Cannabis:

  • RIB v B Herd (06.05.2022) – Level 130ng/mL; seven weeks suspension and costs of $187.50.
  • RIB v A Scott (04.03.2022) –level 500ng/mL; nine weeks suspension and costs of $187.50.
  • RIU v JL Robinson (27.06.18) – level >300ng/mL; six-week suspension and $187.50 costs

Aggravating Factors

[29] The RIB submits that the Respondent understands the use of Cannabis is prohibited under the Rules.

Mitigating Factors

[30] The RIB submits the following mitigating factors in favour of the Respondent:

  • He is a young person who at the time of the offending was aged 17 years, having recently turned 18 during July 2022.
  • He has been and remained cooperative, compliant, and respectful throughout the process.
  • He has admitted the breach and he agrees with the Summary of Facts.


[31] The RIB seeks a 6-week suspension of Mr Ward’s Stablehand non-riding Licence as part of his current application for a Trackwork Licence under the accreditation process (backdated to 5th July 2022 when he was ‘stood down’). Along with costs of Hill Laboratories of $187.50.

Submissions as to Penalty – Respondent

[32] In relation to penalty Mr Ward submitted that he does not wish to add anything, other than that he admits the breach and would like to get through whatever penalty I have as soon as possible”.


[33] The Adjudicative Committee has decided that a 6-week suspension, with being 1-week stayed subject to terms and conditions set out below (at paragraphs 37 and 38) is an appropriate penalty.  If those conditions are met the Respondent will serve out a 5-week suspension.


[34] The Respondent is in the early stages of embarking on a career in the Racing Industry.  He will now understand that because of his Cannabis use, he has put in jeopardy the opportunity that has been afforded to him to become an a Licensed Trackwork Rider through the NZTR Accreditation process.  He was stood down on 5 July 2022 (5 weeks ago) and has therefore been unable to take part in the programme during that period.

[35] In consideration of penalty the Adjudicative Committee has had due regard for the following factors:

  • The circumstances of this breach.
  • The submissions lodged by the Applicant and Respondent including mitigating and aggravating factors.
  • The Respondent’s level of culpability, which by his own admission cannot be categorised as a ‘one-off’ use of as he admitted to the use of Cannabis twice in the 10-day period leading up to him being tested. Therefore, the responsibility for the breach rests firmly with him due to his own actions.
  • The Respondent’s personal circumstances including his age at the time of the breach (17 years).
  • The Respondent’s frank admission; his cooperation with the investigation; his good record and his willingness to accept ‘whatever penalty’ is imposed.

[36] The RIB submitted three precedent cases where, it was said the offending was of a similar nature to this breach.  Penalties in those cases ranged between 6 and 9 weeks (suspension).  The Committee is also aware of a number of other similar cases that have resulted in 6 weeks (suspensions), namely:

  • RIU v Askew (31.08.2017) – In this case a Licensed Track Rider tested positive to Cannabis (300ng/mL). He received a 6-week suspension and costs of $187.50.
  • RIU v Collins (19.06.17) – In this case a Licensed Trackwork Rider tested positive to Cannabis (78 ng/mL). He received a 6-week suspension and costs of $187.50.
  • RIU v Heemi (24.11.16) – In this case a Licensed Trackwork Rider tested positive to Cannabis. He received a 6-week suspension and costs of $187.50.
  • RIU v Robinson (24.11.16) – In this case a Licensed Trackwork Rider tested positive to Cannabis (270 ng/mL). He received a 6-week suspension and costs of $187.50.

[37] Accordingly, under the circumstances of this case and the penalties handed out in the precedent cases, a 6 week (suspension) starting point has been adopted.

[38] Given the background to this breach and in particular the Respondents age, 17 years old at the time of the breach, the Committee believes there is potential for rehabilitation.  On that basis, the Committee considers this a suitable case to invoke the provisions of Rule 812 which empowers the Adjudicative Committee to:

  • in addition to or in substitution of any penalty imposed …. require the person committing the breach to complete a counselling or rehabilitation course of the type specified by the Adjudicative Committee; and/or
  • stay, in whole or in part, and for such period and upon such terms and conditions as it thinks fit, the operation of any penalty imposed for a breach of the Rules, provided that, in the event of any failure to comply with any of the terms and conditions of the stay, the Adjudicative Committee may order that the penalty or the remaining part of the penalty take effect.

[39] The Respondent needs to understand, if he does not already do so, that his cannabis use when working with horses, could place himself and others at significant risk.  Therefore, in keeping with the intent of Rule 812, the Committee is of the view that the best way this understanding may be instilled in him is by way of rehabilitative (and therapeutic) approach via the counselling programme delivered by NZTRAs Drug Clinician.

[40] From the 6-week starting point, 1 week is stayed conditional on the Respondent receiving counselling and or education (within 4 weeks of this decision).  If these terms and conditions are not met the Committee orders that the Respondent serve out the additional 1-week suspension.

Penalty and Costs:

[41] The Respondent Mr Ward’s Stablehand (non-riding) Licence is suspended for 5 weeks.

[42] The period of suspension is backdated to 5 July 2022 (when he was ‘stood down’) and will conclude on 11 August 2022, meaning that he can recommence the accreditation programme on 12 August 2022.

[43] In addition, Mr Ward is directed to meet with NZTRAs Drug Clinician, Ms Dianna Young, within 4 weeks of this decision and complete whatever follow-up Ms Young considers necessary.  If Mr Ward does not meet this obligation, he will have to serve out an additional week’s suspension.


[44] Costs of $187.50., being the cost of the sample analysis, are awarded in favour of the Applicant.

[45] Although this matter was dealt with ‘on the papers’ and although some costs have been incurred by the RIB (Adjudication Committee) on this occasion they are waived.

Decision Date: 10/08/2022

Publish Date: 11/08/2022