NZ Metro TC 1 October 2021 – R11 – Bob Butt

ID: RIB4998

Respondent(s):
Bob Butt - Driver

Applicant:
Shane Renault, Stipendiary Steward

Adjudicators:
Russell McKenzie (Chair) and Olivia Jarvis

Information Number:
A16121

Decision Type:
Adjudicative Decision

Charge:
Using Whip With More Than a Wrist Flicking Motion

Rule(s):
869 (2) and Whip and Rein Regulations

Plea:
Admitted

Animal Name:
Socrates

Code:
Harness

Race Date:
01/10/2021

Race Club:
NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club Inc

Race Location:
Addington Raceway - 75 Jack Hinton Drive, Addington, Christchurch, 8024

Race Number:
R11

Hearing Date:
01/10/2021

Hearing Location:
Addington Raceway, Christchurch

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Driver Bob Butt suspended for 3 days

SUMMARY OF FACTS:

Driver Bob Butt was charged following Race 11, First Direct Taxis Mobile Pace, that as the Driver of SOCRATES in the race, he used his whip with more than a wrist flicking motion in the home straight.

SUBMISSIONS:

Mr Renault showed a video replay of the final 200-300 metres of the race. He pointed out SOCRATES, driven by Mr Butt, racing outside the leader as the field turned into the home straight. Mr Renault said that Stewards had issues with the first three strikes in the straight which, he alleged were more than a wrist flick. From the 100 metres, Stewards were happy that Mr Butt’s whip use from the 100 metres was compliant. The Committee noted that SOCRATES finished 2nd in the race, a 1/2 head from the winner, JAGARA.

Mr Butt said that he accepted that the first was a strike but, as he went to correct himself, the next two strikes in question looked worse than they were as he was running the whip through the tail and drew his arm further back. He submitted that the alleged second and third strikes should not count as such.

Mr Renault said that the breach was low-level. Mr Butt had corrected himself after the three strikes.

REASONS FOR DECISION:

Mr Butt having admitted the charge it was found proved.

SUBMISSIONS FOR PENALTY:

Mr Renault said that Mr Butt has had 253 drives this season. He has a previous breach of the Rule on his record – on 28th May, fined $500 for using his whip in more than a wrist flicking motion. That makes this breach a second offence for which the Penalty Guide provides a 3-5 days suspension. The breach being at the low end, Stewards were asking for a 3-days suspension, Mr Renault said.

Mr Renault then outlined the upcoming meetings. Mr Butt did not seek a deferment, he said. Timaru HRC on the 3rd of October is not to be included in the calculation of days as Drivers for that meeting have been notified and, in any event, Mr Butt has no drives there.

Mr Butt repeated that he only accepted that there was one offending strike and 3-days was excessive, even for three strikes. A 3-days suspension will amount to a significant loss of income and there is a premier meeting included.

Mr Renault repeated the allegation of the Stewards that there were a clear three strikes. Mr Butt’s whip action changed, quite noticeably, after the three strikes in question. The third strike was as bad as the first, Mr Renault submitted.

REASONS FOR PENALTY:

Mr Butt has admitted the charge of using his whip in more than a wrist only flicking motion. He disagrees with the submission of the Stewards that there were three strikes in that category, himself submitting that only the first strike should be taken into consideration. We are concerned with penalty. One strike or three, Mr Butt has admitted the charge and it is a second offence. Having said that, the Committee is satisfied that the number of offending strikes was three as alleged by Mr Renault.

The breach is low-level – when a Driver inadvertently reverts to the old style (freehand, loose reining and/or more than a flicking motion) but promptly takes corrective steps to return to a compliant style. The starting point for penalty for a second offence is a 3-5 days suspension. For a low-level breach such as this, a term of suspension at the lower end of that range is appropriate, there being no aggravating factors.

It is unfortunate for Mr Butt that a 3-days suspension might have significant financial effect for him, but the Penalty Guidelines are well settled. Mitigating factors can be taken into account only in the most exceptional circumstances.

CONCLUSIONS:

Mr Butt’s Open Driver’s Licence is suspended from after the close of racing on 1st October up to and including 15th October 2021 – 3 days. The meetings intended to be encompassed by that period of suspension are NZ Metropolitan TC on 7th October, Methven TC on 10th October and NZ Metropolitan TC on 15th October 2021.

Decision Date: 01/10/2021

Publish Date: 05/10/2021