Non Raceday Inquiry – Written Decision dated 19 August 2021 – Trent Agent and Kimberly Williams

ID: RIB4230

Respondent(s):
Trent Agent - Trainer, Kimberly Williams - Trainer

Applicant:
Mr K Coppins - Stipendiary Steward

Adjudicators:
Mr G R Jones

Information Number:
A11023

Decision Type:
Adjudicative Decision

Charge:
Weight up from previous start

Rule(s):
45.11

Plea:
Admitted

Code:
Greyhound

Race Date:
04/08/2021

Race Club:
Wanganui Greyhound Racing Club

Race Location:
Hatrick Raceway - Sarjeant Street, Spriggens Park, Whanganui, 4500

Race Number:
R9

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Trainers Trent Agent and Kimberly are fined $350

EVIDENCE:

Introduction

[1] This is the penalty decision arising from Information Number A11023 filed against the Licenced Greyhound Training partnership of Mr Trent Agent and Ms Kimberly Williams (“the Respondents”). The charge relates to Race 9 at the meeting conducted by the Wanganui Greyhound Club on 4 August 2021.

Determination on the papers

[2] With the consent of the parties, the Adjudicative Committee (“the Committee”) made its determination as to penalty ‘on the papers’ pursuant to paragraph 21.1 of the Common Rules of Practice and Procedure contained in the Seventh Schedule of the Rules of New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association Inc (GRNZ).

[3] The Committee was provided with and perused relevant documents including Information Number A11023, the summary of facts and the penalty submissions filed by the Applicant. The Respondents elected not to provide penalty submissions.

The Charge

[4] Information Number A11023 alleges:

THAT on 4 August 2021 at a race meeting conducted by Wanganui Greyhound Racing Club in Race 9, the Respondents TS Agent and KH Williams presented BIG TIME JARRED 1.6kg up from his last raceday start which was 28 July 2021.

[5] This is the kennels fourth breach of Rule 45.11 within the previous 120 days. On that basis the breach was referred to an Adjudicative Committee by Stewards pursuant to Rule 62.3 (b) for a penalty decision.

The Rules

[6] The relevant Rules are as follows:

[7] Rule 45.11 provides that – Where the weight of a Greyhound recorded at a Meeting varies by more than one and a half (1.5) kilograms from the weight recorded in a Race in which it last performed that Greyhound shall be permitted to compete in the current Race, but the Trainer of the Greyhound shall be guilty of an Offence unless permission has been granted under Rule 45.12.

[8] Rule 45.12 provides that – Permission shall be granted by Stewards for a Greyhound recording a weight variance of more than one and a half (1.5) kilograms to start in a Race provided that such Greyhound has not performed in any Race during the preceding 28 days, and no fine shall be imposed. For the avoidance of doubt, the day of the dog’s last start shall be counted as a day for the purposes of the 28 days.

[9] Rule 62.3 (a) and (b) which provides that – An Offence under these Rules may be classified as a Minor Infringement Offence where:

(a) the Offence is a breach of one of the Rules set out in the Sixth Schedule (which shall be an Additional Rule Appended to these Rules); and

(b) the person who has committed the Offence has not committed more than two (or such higher number as may be determined by the Steward from time to time in the Steward’s discretion) breaches of that Rule in the period 120 days immediately preceding, and including, the date that the Offence has been committed.

The Plea

[10] The charge is admitted by the Respondents and the Information was endorsed accordingly by Ms K Williams on behalf of the training partnership.

Summary of Facts

[11] The Respondents Mr Trent Agent and Ms Kimberlee Williams are licensed to train under the Rules of GRNZ. On the 4 August 2021 they engaged BIG TIME JARRED in race 9, the Hatrick Dash C1 at the Wanganui Greyhound Racing Club.

[12] BIG TIME JARRED was weighed twice with both recorded weights being the same, namely 35.3 kg which represents a 1.6 kg increase on his previous race weight of 33.7 kg on 28 July 2021.

[13] Ms Williams was representing the training partnership on the race day in question and when spoken to by Stewards she readily admitted a breach of GRNZ Rule 45.11 and signed Information A11023.

[14] This is the Respondents fourth breach of the Rule within the past 120 days. The previous breaches having occurred on:

• 11 July 2021 – Auckland GRC – BIG TIME JARRED (fourth offence within previous 120 days and referred to Adjudicative Committee) – fined $300 (24 days)

• 23 June 2021 – Wanganui GRC – ALLEGRO LINCOLN – minor infringement $150 (42 days)

• 16 April 2021 – Wanganui GRC – BIG TIME TATUM – minor infringement $150 (110 days)

Reason for Decision

[15] As the charge is admitted by the Respondents, it is deemed proved.

Submissions for Penalty

The Applicants Penalty Submission

The Applicant Mr Coppins provided the following written submissions:

[16] The racing public rely on dogs racing at their optimum weights and get frustrated when greyhounds they may follow to bet on are presented to race outside their normal race weight. This causes the industry to appear unprofessional at times.

[17] The Respondents have admitted a breach, the facts are agreed and are not in dispute.

[18] A breach of Rule 45.11 is generally dealt with by Stewards by way of a Minor Infringement Notice (MIN) for the first three breaches, with a fourth breach resulting in an Information being filed.

[19] The following precedents cases are submitted for the consideration of the Committee:

• RIU v J McInerney, 3 September 2020, fourth breach, fined $300.

• RIU v J McInerney, 14 October 2019, fourth breach, fined $550, reduced to $300 on appeal.

• RIU v L Cole 2 July 2021, fourth breach, fined $350.

• RIU v Agent/Williams 11 July 2021, fourth breach $300

[20] In conclusion, the RIB has historically suggested a starting level of $300 for the fourth breach of the Rule, accordingly it is submitted a $300 fine is the suggested starting point in this instance.

Penalty submissions – Respondents

[21] There is no requirement or obligations on the Respondents to submit penalty submissions.

[22] On this occasion they were afforded the opportunity to submit submissions but elected not to do so.

REASON FOR PENALTY:

[23] A breach of Rule 45.11 is generally dealt with by way of Minor Offence Notice (MIN) and penalties for such breaches are specified with the Sixth Schedule of the Master GRNZ Rules of Racing (effective 1 August 2018). The schedule provides that a first breach of the Rule within the 120-day reset period is liable to a $100 fine; a second breach a $150 fine and a third breach may be dealt with by either referral to an RIB Adjudicative Committee or at the discretion of Stewards they may impose a further fine, in accordance with r62.3 (b) – refer paragraphs (5) and (9).

[24] Whereas the penalty for a first and second breach is prescribed within the MIN schedule, the penalty for a third breach (or more) is evaluated on a fact dependant basis. Factors considered most relevant include (1) the severity of the breach; (2) the Respondent’s level of culpability; (3) the Respondent’s personal circumstances including their record of past breaches; (4) for consistency the penalties that have been imposed in like cases; and [5) any impact the offending may have on the betting public and/or the integrity of Racing. On that basis this Committee has used these criteria as its decision-making framework to evaluate the penalty outcome of this charge.

Precedent cases

[25] In his submission the Applicant referred to the four recent precedent cases relating to a fourth breach of this rule. All four cases have some relevance to this matter and therefore are useful for benchmarking purposes in that they establish and confirm that for a fourth breach a $300 fine is an appropriate starting point.

[26] This point was reinforced in the Appeal decision McInerney v RIU (19 November 2019), where the Chair of the Appeal Tribunal Mr R G McKenzie stated at paragraphs 26 to 28 inclusive:

“The Judicial Committee in its decision on 25 May 2019 stated that a penalty consistent with penalties for a third or subsequent breach of a $300 fine was appropriate. We agree.

It was further stated by the Appeal Tribunal that:

The Tribunal notes that the Racing Integrity Unit Stewards submitted for a fine of $250 -$300 before the Judicial Committee and, further, Mr Quirk in his submissions on the appeal submitted for a fine “in the range of” $250-$300”. The Tribunal is satisfied that the penalty imposed by the Judicial Committee of a fine of $550 is manifestly excessive”.

The Tribunal upheld the appeal and the fine of $550 imposed by the Judicial Committee was quashed and a fine of $300 imposed which is now accepted as the norm.

[27] On that basis the starting point for this fourth breach is set at $300 with appropriate allowances made for aggravating and mitigating factors as outlined below.

Aggravating factors

[28] Although this is the Respondents fourth breach within the 120-day reset period, this breach is the Respondents eight (8th) breach of the Rule within the past 8 months, and tenth (10th) breach since October 2019. The previous breach having occurred less than three weeks prior to this breach. Accordingly, the Committee has assessed the Respondents as having a poor recent record and deem this to be an aggravating factor.

[29] Whilst on one hand the Respondents should not be re-penalised for previous breaches, on the other hand they must be held to account for their continual repeat offending. This can best be achieved by way of a deterrent penalty. Therefore, due to their poor record in relation to this Rule a $100 uplift is applied to the $300 staring point.

Mitigating factors

[30] Although the Respondents admitted the breach at the first available opportunity limited credit can be given as there is no suggestion the weight variance was attributed to faulty scales or some other contributory factor.

[31] The Respondents agreed to have the charges dealt with on the papers, thus reducing the need for a costly and time-consuming hearing.

[32] The weight variance was 100 grams more than permitted by the Rule, thus placing the severity of the breach in the lower range.

[33] This fourth breach occurred within 12 days of the 120-day reset period.

[34] In consideration of the above mitigating factors a $50 reduction is applied.

CONCLUSIONS:

[35] After thoughtful deliberation and taking account of the mitigating and aggravating factors, a fine of $350 is deemed sufficient and fair under the circumstances of this case.

[36] Accordingly, a fine of $350 is imposed.

Costs

[37] Because this matter was dealt with ‘on the papers’ pursuant to para 21.1 of the Common Rules of Practice and Procedure for the Judicial Committee there will be no order as to costs.

G R Jones
Chair

Decision Date: 19/08/2021

Publish Date: 20/08/2021