Non Raceday Inquiry – Written Decision dated 23 July 2021 – Trent Agent and Kimberly Williams

ID: RIB3693

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

Applicant:
Mr M Austin - Senior Stipendiary Steward

Adjudicators:
Mr G Jones

Information Number:
A4690

Decision Type:
Adjudicative Decision

Charge:
Weight down from previous start

Rule(s):
45.11

Plea:
Admitted

Code:
Greyhound

Race Date:
11/07/2021

Race Club:
Auckland Greyhound Racing Club

Race Location:
Manukau Greyhound Standium - Te Irirangi Drive, Manukau, Auckland, 2023

Race Number:
R2

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Trainers Trent Agent and Kimberly Williams are fined $300

EVIDENCE:

Introduction

[1] This is the penalty decision arising from Information Number A4690 filed against the Licenced Greyhound Training partnership of Mr Trent Agent and Ms Kimberly Williams (“the Respondents”). The charge relates to Race 2 at the meeting conducted by the Auckland Greyhound Club, at Manukau Stadium on 11 July 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 for the Judicial Committee and Appeals Tribunal contained in the Seventh Schedule of the Rules of New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association Inc.

[3] The Committee was provided with and perused relevant documents including Information Number A4690, summary of facts and penalty submissions. The Respondents elected not to provide penalty submissions.

The Charge

[4] Information Number A4690 alleges that:

On 11 July 2021 at a race meeting conducted by Auckland Greyhound Racing Club in Race 2, the Respondents Agent/KH Williams presented BIG TIME JARROD 1.7kg up from his last raceday start which was 30 June 2021. This being their fourth offence in less than 120 days.

The Rules

[5] The relevant Rules are as follows:

[6] 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.

[7] 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.

The Plea

[8] The charge is admitted by the Respondents. The Information was signed by the Respondent (K Williams) on 11 July 2021 and endorsed “I do admit the breach of the rule”.

Summary of Facts

[9] BIG TIME JARROD was correctly nominated and drawn into the Field for Race 2, the Carol’s TAB Taipa Tavern Sprint-C1- 318m at the Auckland Greyhound Racing Club on 11 July 2021.

[10] The Respondents presented BIG TIME JARROD to kenneling for Race 2.

[11] BIG TIME JARROD weighed in at 36.1 kgs which was an increase of 1.7 kgs from his last race weight of 34.4kgs on the 30-6-2021.

[12] The Greyhound was weighed twice with both recorded weights being the same. The Respondent K Williams was spoken to and readily admitted to a breach (of GRNZ Rule 45.11) and acknowledged it was the Training Partnership’s fourth breach of this Rule in less than 120 days.

[13] The Respondents’ previous 3 breaches of this Rule in the preceding 120 days are as follows:

• 17 March 2021- BIG TIME TATUM- minor infringement fine $150

• 16 April 2021 BIG TIME TATUM- minor infringement fine $150

• 23 June 2021 ALLEGRO LINCOLN- minor infringement fine- $150

[14] The breaches have been referred to the Adjudicative Committee pursuant GRNZ Rule 62.3 (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.

REASON FOR DECISION:

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

SUBMISSION FOR PENALTY:

Penalty Submission – Informant

The Applicant Mr Austin provided the following written submissions:

[15] This is the Respondents’ fourth breach within the 120-reset period and is their sixth breach within the past 7 months.

[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 weights. This causes the Industry to appear unprofessional at times.

[17] The Racing Integrity Board see these continual breaches as unnecessary given the experience of this Training Partnership. We would ask that the Adjudicative panel look to impose a penalty that reflects this.

[18] RIU Stewards under the previous system have always set a starting Submission level of $300 for a fourth breach of this Rule. Recent penalties are:

RIU v J McInerney decision dated 3 September 2020 fined $300 for a fourth breach.

RIU v J McInerney decision dated 14 October 2020 fined $550 for a fourth breach- later reduced to $300 on appeal.

RIU v L Cole decision dated 2 July 2021 fined $350 for a fourth breach.

Penalty Submissions – Respondents

[19] Although there is no requirement or obligations on the Respondents to submit penalty submissions, they were afforded the opportunity to submit submissions but elected not to do so.

REASON FOR PENALTY:

[20] A breach of r45.11 is generally dealt with by way of Minor Offence Notice (MIN) and penalties for such breaches are specified with the Sixth Schedule 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 paragraph (15).

[21] 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 a decision-making framework to evaluate the penalty outcome of this charge.

Precedent cases

[22] In his submission the Applicant referred to the three most recent precedent cases relating to a fourth breach of this Rule. All three cases are relevant to this matter and provide a useful benchmark in that they establish and confirm that for a fourth breach a $300 fine is an appropriate starting point. 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.

A point raised by each party in submissions was that the breach was categorised as a “minor offence” under the rules. This fact should not be lost sight of, and, in the present case, it is significant that the greyhound was only 0.2 kg over the permitted weight threshold and, we were told, the overweight was notified at an early stage, thereby minimising any effect on the betting public. In any event the dog was not a favoured runner. It was, in fact, a minor offence.

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”.

[23] 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

[24] Although this is the Respondents’ fourth breach within the 120-day reset period, the Applicant has highlighted the fact that this breach is the Respondents seventh within the past 7 months. On that basis the Committee has assessed the Respondents as having a poor recent record and deem this to be an aggravating factor for which a $50 uplift is applied.

[25] There are no other aggravating factors associated with this breach.

Mitigating factors

[26] The Respondents admitted the breach at the first available opportunity.

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

[28] The weight variance was 200 grams more than permitted by the Rule, thus placing the severity of the breach in the lower range.

[29] This fourth breach occurred on day 116 of the 120-day reset period and whilst the breach is still captured by the 120-day requirement, it was due to reset within 4 days.

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

CONCLUSIONS:

[31] After consideration of all the factors the Committee was of the view that mitigating and aggravating factors cancel each other out and therefore there are no compelling reasons to deviate from the starting point. According, a fine of $300 is deemed reasonable and fair under the circumstances of this case.

[32] A fine of $300 is imposed.

Costs

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

G R Jones
Chair

Decision Date: 23/07/2021

Publish Date: 27/07/2021