NZ Metro TC 14 November 2023 – R4 – MANDALAY BAY
NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club Inc
Addington Raceway - 75 Jack Hinton Drive, Addington, Christchurch, 8024
Addington Raceway, Christchurch
Outcome: Protest Dismissed
Following the running of Race 4, Garrards Pace, an Information instigating a protest was filed by Open Driver, Blair Orange, as the Driver of SHEPHERDS DELIGHT, placed 4th in the race, against MANDALAY BAY (Bob Butt), placed 2nd in the race, alleging “interference near the 2100 metres”.
The Judge’s official placings were:
1st 5 Kingsdown Atom
2nd 16 Mandalay Bay
3rd 3 Tempo Warrior
4th 4 Shepherds Delight
The official margins were 1¾ lengths, a head and a ½ head.
Mr Orange and Mr Butt each confirmed that they were authorised to represent the connections of their respective runners at the protest hearing.
Rule 869(A) provides:
(2) When a placed horse or its driver causes interference to another placed horse and the Adjudicative Committee is satisfied that the horse interfered with would have finished ahead of the horse that, or whose driver, caused the interference the Adjudicative Committee must, in addition to any other penalty that may be imposed, place the horse that, or whose driver, caused the interference immediately after the horse interfered with.
At the outset of the hearing, the Adjudicative Committee requested the Stewards to show the available video replays and identify the runners involved.
Chief Stipendiary Steward, Nigel McIntyre, pointed out SHEPHERDS DELIGHT in the lead as the field passed the 2200 metres, 400 metres after the start of the 2600 metres standing start race. He then pointed to MANDALAY BAY improving to race outside it, and challenge for the lead. As it was about to cross to the lead, it commenced to race erratically and checked SHEPHERDS DELIGHT, which was checked and galloped for several strides, losing ground. Mr McIntyre showed on a replay that SHEPHERDS DELIGHT subsequently improved to take the lead again with 1300 metres to run, with MANDALAY BAY racing three places back on the markers. He then showed that SHEPHERDS DELIGHT was still in the lead as the field turned into the final straight, with MANDALAY BAY still racing three places back on the markers. The latter made ground in the passing lane to finish in 2nd placing, with SHEPHERDS DELIGHT being run down to finish 4th, a head and a ½ head behind MANDALAY BAY.
Mr Orange said that his runner had received a check and lost “close to 3 lengths” as a result. He referred to the margins at the finish. He said he believed that, without having to make up the ground he had lost, he would have beaten MANDALAY BAY. He conceded that he still had his chance, but had lost 2½ to 3 lengths as a result of the interference.
Mr Butt said that, as he was attempting to take the lead from Mr Orange, his runner had raced erratically and ducked inwards, and made contact with Mr Orange’s runner. He submitted that Mr Orange’s runner had not lost its position, and ended up getting an economical run, and had every chance to beat him. He had not affected Mr Orange’s runner’s chances at all, he said. In the straight, he had come from behind Mr Orange’s runner and still run it down, he said.
Mr McIntyre was then asked to give his assessment of the interference. He said that it was clear that interference had occurred near the 2100 metres when MANDALAY BAY raced greenly and SHEPHERDS DELIGHT had received some degree of interference. However, he said, the interference took place 2100 metres from the finish, and Stewards believed there were too many “variables” to consider from that stage of the race. Also, he pointed out, Mr Butt had come from behind Mr Orange in the final stages and gone to the line “relatively untested”, despite pacing roughly about 50 metres from the finish.
REASONS FOR DECISION:
The Rule requires the Adjudicative Committee to determine two matters. Firstly, did MANDALAY BAY cause interference to SHEPHERDS DELIGHT as alleged by Mr Orange, with approximately 2100 metres to race? Secondly, without that interference, would SHEPHERDS DELIGHT have finished ahead of MANDALAY BAY.
The answer to the first question is simple. Interference clearly took place. This was accepted by both parties and Mr McIntyre.
The answer to the second of those questions is not nearly so simple. What makes it so difficult is the fact that that interference took place after only 500 metres of the race, and with still 2100 metres to race. It is most unusual for an interference protest to be brought in these circumstances. That is not to say that such a protest could not succeed.
The problem for the party seeking relegation in such circumstances is, clearly, where the interference takes place so far from home, it is difficult for an Adjudicative Committee to find and be satisfied that the runner interfered with would have finished in front of the runner causing the interference, as required by the Rule. That is the case here, notwithstanding the narrow margin between the two runners at the finish. As Mr McIntyre put it, there are too many “variables” to be considered, in terms of what could possibly unfold in the race from the point of the interference to the finishing line. These are impossible to assess.
Other factors which the Adjudicative Committee is able to consider in this case are the minimal amount of ground which SHEPHERDS DELIGHT lost and also, the fact that MANDALAY BAY came from several lengths behind that horse starting the run home to finish ahead of it. Although the margins were narrow, it did so with relative ease.
In summary, although interference clearly took place, the Adjudicative Committee cannot be satisfied, for the reasons given, that SHEPHERDS DELIGHT, placed 4th, would have finished ahead of MANDALAY BAY, placed 2nd.
The protest was dismissed and the Judge’s placings stand.
It was ordered that dividends and stakes be paid in accordance with the Judge’s placings.
Decision Date: 14/11/2023
Publish Date: 17/11/2023