NZ Metro TC 13 April 2023 – R7 (heard 16 April 2023 at Methven) – Ben Hope
NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club Inc
Addington Raceway - 75 Jack Hinton Drive, Addington, Christchurch, 8024
Mt Harding Racecourse
Penalty: Junior Driver Ben Hope is suspended for 2 days
Following the running of Race 7, Stipendiary Steward Mr Shane Renault presented an Information alleging a breach of Rule 869(3)(b) by Junior Driver Mr Ben Hope.
Mr Hope stated he understood the Rule and the Charge, and he confirmed he denied the breach.
Open Driver Mr John Dunn was present assisting Mr Hope, and asked for the hearing to be adjourned and given it was well after the last race and the commitments both had with their horses, it was agreed the hearing would be heard at Methven on Sunday.
Rule 869(3)(b) provides:
Any driver in a race may not drive:
Mr Renault played the race video from approximately the 600m to identify Mr Hope driving STUNIN STAR, who was racing in the trail. He pointed to JORDY, driven by Terry Chmiel, racing a half-length back on the outside of STUNIN STAR. Mr Renault said as the field approached the 400m, Mr Hope has shifted his horse out from the trail abruptly checking JORDY, whose Driver Mr Chmiel, had to take evasive action.
Mr Renault had Mr Chmiel give evidence on the phone. Mr Chmiel said Mr Hope shifted out of the trailing position too harshly, and the resulting check took the wind out of his sails. He said Mr Hope’s manoeuvre wasn’t gradual and he had certainly lost momentum.
Mr Hope said his horse was “bolting” and he believed he was going to hit the sulky in front of him if he didn’t shift outwards when he did. He said the video does show his horse has checked Mr Chmiel, but only to a minor extent.
Mr Dunn asked Mr Chmiel if JORDY was slow to react to Mr Hope’s movement, and that perhaps it was hanging a shade. Mr Chmiel said he couldn’t remember if the horse was hanging, but reiterated Mr Hope’s move was too abrupt.
REASONS FOR DECISION:
Shifting ground Regulations state:
“For the avoidance of doubt, the following shall apply: The onus shall be on the driver shifting ground to ensure the move is made with safety and does not cause interference by conducting it in a gradual and acceptable manner thereby enabling the driver of the runner being moved to be able to take the necessary action to accommodate the manoeuvre.”
The Adjudicative Committee, having regard for all submissions and after viewing the video several times, could not be satisfied Mr Hope’s manoeuvre was measured or gradual, nor acceptable, and accordingly, found the charge proved.
The charge is found proved.
SUBMISSIONS FOR PENALTY:
Mr Renault stated Mr Hope has had 110 drives this season and 357 in the previous, and has a clear record under the Rule.
Mr Renault said the starting point for this breach of the Rule is a 3-day suspension, and Stewards would seek this as an appropriate penalty.
Mr Hope asked for a deferment of any suspension until after 21 April 2023.
Mr Dunn stated a suspension for such a breach was totally unreasonable, and that a fine would be sufficient for such a low-level offence.
When the relevant days of suspension for Mr Hope was discussed, Mr Renault was hesitant in allowing Mr Hope the Invercargill Diamond Day, as he said the record shows Mr Hope has only driven there once in the last 12 months.
The Adjudicative Committee asked Mr Hope for confirmation he had intended driving at Invercargill, and he produced his phone which had on it an Air New Zealand app booked flight for himself to Invercargill on 23 April, returning to Christchurch on the 24 April. Mr Renault accepted Invercargill would be a genuine day.
REASONS FOR PENALTY:
The Penalty Guidelines provide a 3-day suspension for a first breach of the Rule. The Adjudicative Committee, although considering the breach to be mid-level, view the consequences to be low range.
Mr Hope is given credit for his good record and after all factors being reviewed, it considered a 2- day suspension to be an appropriate penalty in this case.
Deferment is granted and Junior Driver Mr Ben Hope’s Licence to drive in races is suspended from the conclusion of racing on the 21 April 2023, up to and including racing on 24 April 2023.
Decision Date: 16/04/2023
Publish Date: 17/04/2023