Non Raceday Inquiry – Written Decision dated 3 March 2022 – John Murdoch

ID: RIB7633

Respondent(s):
John Murdoch - Driver

Applicant:
Mr Williams, Stipendiary Steward

Adjudicators:
Geoff Hall

Persons Present:
Miss Haley, Stipendiary Steward

Information Number:
A16617

Decision Type:
Adjudicative Decision

Charge:
Excessive use of the whip

Rule(s):
869(2)

Plea:
Admitted

Animal Name:
BIGGLES

Race Number:
R11

Hearing Date:
27/02/2022

Hearing Location:
Oamaru

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Driver John Murdoch is fined $350

Summary of facts

Mr Murdoch drove his horse BIGGLES in Race 11 at the Chertsey TC trials at Ashburton on 22 February 2022. Mr Murdoch was observed by Mr Williams, Stipendiary Steward, during the concluding stages of the race to have used his whip in contravention of r 869(2) and the Whip and Rein Regulations.  This was confirmed when the film of the race was viewed the following day.

After considering the matter, permission was sought and obtained from the Chief Executive of the RIB, Mr Clement pursuant to r 1108(2) to charge Mr Murdoch under r 869(2). Mr Murdoch was spoken to by Mr Williams at the NZMTC meeting on 24 February and shown a replay of the final 500 metres of the trial. He was advised he was going to be charged.

Mr Murdoch readily admitted the charge and confirmed this by signing the Information A16617.

The hearing took place at the Waikouaiti @ Oamaru race meeting on Sunday 27 February 2022.

As Mr Murdoch has admitted the breach, it is found to be proved.

Penalty Submissions

The Informant submitted that Mr Murdoch is a long-time Owner/Trainer/Driver and has an excellent overall record.  He has fully co-operated with Stewards and expressed remorse for his actions.  The Stewards viewed  the severity of the breach as being in the mid-range given the number of strikes (at least 11), their strength and the fact that Mr Murdoch had used his whip in this manner in excess of 50 metres in the home straight.

The starting point for a mid-range breach is a $500 fine or a 2-meeting suspension.  Because Mr Murdoch has not driven in a totalisator race for at least in the last 2 years it was submitted that a fine was the only appropriate penalty on this occasion and it be not less than $350.

Mr Murdoch apologised for his actions. He said he had momentarily reverted to the old-style whip use. He did not disagree with the Stewards’ assessment of the number of strikes. He believed a penalty of $300 was more in keeping with the fines imposed for similar breaches.

Decision

The Respondent has used his whip on at least 11 occasions in the home straight in more than a wrist flicking motion. Some of these strikes are quite forceful. The breach is correctly assessed by the Informant as being mid-range. The starting point is thus a fine of $500. The breach is at trials but the animal welfare concerns are not lessened thereby.

A reduction of $150 from the starting point is appropriate to give credit for Mr Murdoch’s clearly evident remorse and his excellent record.

The penalty is a fine of $350.

Decision Date: 27/02/2022

Publish Date: 04/03/2022