NZ Metro TC 10 December 2023 – R1 – Gemma Thornley

ID: RIB30550

Gemma Thornley - Junior Driver

Nigel McIntyre, Chief Stipendiary Steward

Russell McKenzie (Chair) and Dave Anderson

Information Number:

Decision Type:
Race Related Charge

Improper Driving

869(3)(f) - Riding/driving infringement


Animal Name:
Tempo Warrior


Race Date:

Race Club:
NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club Inc

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

Race Number:

Hearing Date:

Hearing Location:
Addington Raceway, Christchurch

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Junior Driver, Gemma Thornley, suspended 6 days


Following the running of Race 1, Equine Products New Zealand Mobile Pace, Junior Driver, Gemma Thornley, admitted a charge that, as the Driver of TEMPO WARRIOR in the race, she “drove improperly racing into the first bend by restraining her runner which allowed MAJOR TORQUE (Sam Ottley) to shift inwards into the trail ahead of her runner”.

The Respondent was assisted at the hearing of the charge by Open Driver, David Butcher.

The relevant Rule is 869 which provides:

(3) No driver in any race shall drive:- 

     (f)  improperly.


Chief Stipendiary Steward, Nigel McIntyre, identified the two runners on video replays of the incident, approximately 300 metres after the start of the 1980 metres mobile start race. He pointed out that FERNETTI (Carter Dalgety) had crossed to the markers having started from barrier position 5. The Respondent’s runner (which had drawn barrier 1) was positioned on the markers behind that runner and, stablemate, MAJOR TORQUE, driven by Sam Ottley, was racing to its outside, with no space for it against the markers.

Mr McIntyre then showed the Respondent take a hold of her runner, allowing Ms Ottley to get into the trailing position. It was the position of Stewards, he said, that the Respondent should have been driving in a more positive manner and not restraining and allowing Ms Ottley into the trail.

Mr Butcher said that the replays were self-explanatory. It was an error by a young person who needs to know and understand how and why certain things are done. The Respondent has made a mistake and is owning up to it, he said, one which she is unlikely to make again.


The charge having been admitted, it is deemed proved.


Mr McIntyre said that the Respondent has had 640 career drives and is a Junior Driver making her way.

He referred to the Penalty Guide starting point of an 8-days suspension and he said he left it to the Adjudicative Committee to determine, taking into account the Respondent’s frank admission. She has seen the error of her ways, he said.

The Respondent admitted she had made a mistake and has owned up to it, Mr Butcher said. She elected not to seek a deferment of any period of suspension.


The Adjudicative Committee noted the starting point for penalty in the RIB Harness Racing Penalty Guide (February 2023) – an 8-days suspension. The Respondent is a promising Junior Driver, still learning her craft, and has made a very frank admission of her wrongdoing. This is the first occasion on which she has offended in this manner. The Adjudicative Committee views the penalty as a salutary lesson for the Respondent. Having regard to the foregoing factors, a discount from the Penalty Guide is appropriate and the Adjudicative Committee fixes that discount at 2 days. The period of suspension is, therefore, 6 days.


The Respondent, Junior Driver, Gemma Thornley, is suspended from after the close of racing on 11 December up to and including 22 December 2023 – 6 days.

Decision Date: 10/12/2023

Publish Date: 12/12/2023