Non Raceday Inquiry – Written Decision dated 8 February 2024 – Robert Harris

ID: RIB38718

Robert Harris - Other (Unlicenced person)

Ms G Murrow - RIB Investigator

Hon J W Gendall KC

Persons Present:
Ms G Murrow, Messrs N Goodwin, R Carr, S Irving and Ms V Algar (RIB)

Information Number:

Decision Type:
Non-race Related Charge

Breaching disqualification by riding a horse at the Awapuni Racetrack Training Facility

1104(1)(b) - Other - Disqualification

Not Admitted


Hearing Date:

Hearing Location:
Awapuni Racecourse

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Unlicenced Person Robert Harris is disqualified for 6 months

1.  Mr Harris was charged with being a Disqualified Person under the Rules of Racing, and was riding a racehorse on 2 November 2023 to the Awapuni Racetrack Training Facility in Palmerston North.

2.  Rule 1104(1) provides that:

“A person who is disqualified in accordance by this Part XI [the Disqualification Rules] or whose name appears in the list of disqualifications of Another Racing Authority, shall not during that period of disqualification … (b) train any horse or ride any horse in a race or be employed in any capacity in connection with the training or racing of horses”.

3.  It was alleged that Mr Harris was observed riding a racehorse for its Trainer, Mr J Lynds, from his Stables (nearby to Awapuni Racetrack) and around the hosing bay at the track, at about 6.20am on 2 November 2023.  The RIB Investigators were at the track as a result of information they had received that Mr Harris, was regularly riding horses for Mr Lynds to and at the area of the Awapuni training track.  Mr Lynds was present and was spoken to by the Investigators.  During this time, Mr Harris rode a horse away from the Racecourse hose bay area.  It was later ascertained from an interview with Mr Lynds that Mr Harris had returned to his Stables, but he had then departed in his motor vehicle.

4.  Mr Harris was served with the Information shortly thereafter in mid November 2023.  He has taken no steps either to admit or deny the charge.  He has chosen to decline to engage in any communications with the Informant or the Adjudicative Committee.  He was advised of the 2 February 2024 hearing date, time and place by the Minute No. 4 of the Adjudicative Committee, on 19 December 2023.  He has made no response to that or any other communication.  So it was necessary for the hearing to proceed on the basis of formal proof of the allegation.

5.  The evidence that the Adjudicative Committee received, and accepted, established beyond any doubt (whether on the balance of probabilities or “reasonable” that Mr Harris was assisting Mr Lynds in the capacity of riding a horse trained by him onto (and from) the Awapuni Racecourse, in order for it to be trained in trackwork by another Rider.  He had, on 2 November 2023, the care and control of a racehorse being trained by Mr Lynds.  He rode onto the Racecourse premises, delivered the horse to a Track Rider and rode the horse thereafter from the Racecourse, away from the hosing bay area, back to its Stables.

6.  The evidence does not provide whether the warning (alleged to have been given to Mr Lynds on 26 December 2022) was communicated to Mr Harris.

7.  Mr Harris had been disqualified on two occasions for Methamphetamine use whilst a Track Rider which term was still operative on 2 November 2023, not expiring until 30 December 2023.

8.  Mr Harris was serving a second term of disqualification for Methamphetamine whilst riding Mr Lynds’ horses in trackwork.  The Rules provide for a mandatory disqualification (Rule 1104(3)) of not less than 6 months.  Mr Harris has submitted no matters relevant to penalty.  But the Adjudicative Committee has received submissions made by Mr Lynds as to the Respondent’s very difficult personal circumstances.  These were also known to the Adjudicative Committee from matters put before it before the Second Disqualification.  They have been taken into account.

9.  Given the penalty submissions made by Ms Murrow (that a 6 month disqualification was required) and the mandatory provisions of Rule 1104(3), where no discretion is afforded to the Adjudicative Committee, and it says a “disqualification …. of not less than 6 months” is required, the Adjudicative Committee fixes the penalty as a disqualification of Mr Harris for 6 months from today, 2 February 2024 (as he had already served the last period of disqualification which ended on 30 December 2023).  It will expire at the end on 2 August 2024.

10.  Given what the Adjudicative Committee heard of Mr Harris’ personal circumstances, there is no order as to costs.

Decision Date: 02/02/2024

Publish Date: 08/02/2024