NZ Metro TC 15 July 2021 – R 1 – Olivia Thornley

ID: RIB3401

Olivia Thornley - Junior Driver

Mr S P Renault - Stipendiary Steward

Mr R G McKenzie - Chair

Persons Present:
Miss Olivia Thornley - Licensed Junior Driver, Mr S P Renault - Stipendiary Steward, Mr J W Cox - Licensed Open Driver assisting Miss Thornley

Information Number:

Decision Type:
Race Related Charge

Careless Driving

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



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:

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Junior Driver Olivia Thornley is suspended for 2 months


Following the running of Race 1, IRT. Your Horse. Our Passion Mobile Pace, an Information was filed by Stipendiary Steward, Mr S P Renault, against Licensed Junior Driver, Miss Olivia Thornley, alleging that, as the Driver of RIVEERED in the race, she “drove carelessly near the 900 metres when allowing her drive to shift in and make contact with the legs of AMERICAN OUTLAW (Ben Hope) which broke and checked trailing runners”.

Miss Thornley had signed the Statement by the Respondent on the Information form indicating that she admitted the breach and she confirmed this at the hearing, at which she was present. She was assisted at the hearing by Licensed Open Driver, Mr J W Cox.

Rule 869 provides as follows:

(3   No driver shall in any race drive:-

     (b   carelessly


Mr Renault showed video replays of an incident with approximately 900 metres to run in the race. He pointed out RIVEERED, driven by Miss Thornley, improving 3-wide to the parked position as the field passed the 1100 metres and then take the lead off AMERICAN OUTLAW, driven by Mr Hope. That latter runner was overracing, Mr Renault said, and Mr Hope was attempting to take a hold and get cover.

Passing the 900 metres, Miss Thornley shifted her runner inwards and, in doing so, made contact with the front leg of Mr Hope’s runner, resulting in that horse breaking, with several trailing runners being checked, and two being taken out of the race, Mr Renault said.

Mr Renault said that the careless driving was in Miss Thornley being not clear when attempting to cross Mr Hope and making contact with the front leg of Mr Hope’s horse. Mr Hope had confirmed to Stewards that there had been contact and his horse had broken as a result of that contact. Mr Renault said that Miss Thornley was “almost clear, but not quite”.

Miss Thornley said that, when she moved up to the parked position, Mr Hope’s runner had not been overracing. She was unaware that he was having difficulty. When she went to clear him, he had “booted up”. Her own runner’s neck was turned in and had run in onto Mr Hope’s horse. She believed that she was momentarily clear, but when she hit the bend, the inside horse had the advantage of the inside running and had booted up at the same time that her horse’s head had turned to the inside.

Mr Cox submitted that Miss Thornley had been unlucky with Mr Hope’s horse overracing. She had already activated the removeable deafeners. In a couple more strides, she would have cleared Mr Hope’s runner. Neither horse had helped the situation, he said.


Miss Thornley having admitted the charge, it was found proved.


Mr Renault said that Miss Thornley has had 67 drives this season, 41 last season. Her record under the Careless Driving Rule is clear. Her last careless driving charge was 46 drives ago, in October 2020.

Mr Renault referred to the Penalty Guide starting point – a $500 fine or a 10 drives suspension. Stewards were seeking a suspension in this case, he said. Miss Thornley would be lucky to have one drive per meeting, he said.

Stewards saw this breach as being at the high end of careless driving, Mr Renault said. The consequences of Miss Thornley’s carelessness have taken several horses out of the race. Mitigating factors are that Mr Hope’s horse was overracing, Miss Thornley’s record is a good one and she has admitted the breach.

Mr Renault submitted that an uplift from the 10-drives starting point was appropriate for the consequences to other horses in the race. He sought a suspension, but left the term of any suspension to the Committee. The term of suspension had to be lengthy having regard to the number of drives that Miss Thornley has, he said. He suggested that a suspension expressed in terms of weeks might be appropriate in the circumstances.

Miss Thornley, when asked by the Committee, agreed that one drive per meeting was a fair assessment of the frequency with which she drives.

Mr Cox said that any suspension would be hard on Miss Thornley, but he agreed that the breach was high-end, with Miss Thornley having been responsible for several runners having their chances affected, he said.


The Committee noted that the Penalty Guide starting point for careless driving is a $500 fine or a 10-drives suspension.

Looking at the incident in which Mr Hope’s runner was badly checked and the chances of several runners affected, it is fair to categorise it as high-level carelessness. There is little that can be said for Miss Thornley. While Mr Hope’s runner was plainly overracing, it was incumbent on Miss Thornley to ensure that there was sufficient clearance before finally crossing Mr Hope. This she did not do and the consequences were obvious – as many as seven runners were affected to a greater or lesser extent, two of which were pulled up. The degree of carelessness was high.

An uplift from the 10-drives starting point is called for. The Committee fixed the uplift at 2 drives. That is offset by the mitigating factors – Miss Thornley’s good record, her admission of the breach and her Junior Driver status. Allowing two drives for those factors, one arrives back at the starting point of 10 drives.

It is desirable in this case to express the term of the suspension in terms of a period of time rather than a number of meetings. In the event, the Committee has decided that, in Miss Thornley’s case, 10 drives will equate, as nearly as can be estimated, to a suspension for 2 months and that is the penalty in this case.


Miss Thornley’s Junior Driver’s Licence is suspended for a period of 2 months from 16 July 2021 to 15 September 2021 both dates inclusive.

Decision Date: 15/07/2021

Publish Date: 19/07/2021