NZ Metro TC 18 February 2022 – R2 – Ray Jenkins
NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club Inc
Addington Raceway - 75 Jack Hinton Drive, Addington, Christchurch, 8024
Addington Raceway, Christchurch
Outcome: Not Proved
Following the running of Race 2, NZB Bloodstock Mobile Pace, the Respondent denied a charge of a breach of Rule 869(3)(b) – namely, that, as the Driver of NAKULA in the race, he failed to concede his position when being shifted inwards by GET BACK (John Morrison) resulting in NAKULA breaking.
The Respondent endorsed the Information “I do not admit a breach of the Rule” and confirmed he understood the Rule and the nature of the charge.
Rule 869(3)(b) provides:
No driver shall in any race drive carelessly.
The Shifting Ground Regulation (effective from 11 November 2018) provides:
Where a horse does not have a clear passage during a race the driver shall be permitted to shift ground:
1. Inwards and ease another runner down the track provided such driver is in a position to do so by having sufficient advantage over the horse about to be shifted inwards and that horse is clear of other runners to its inside so it can be moved in.
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.
Using the available video replays, Manager of Stewards, Nigel McIntyre, identified the horses involved in the incident. GET BACK, driven by John Morrison, was racing in a 3-wide position near the back of the field after approximately 300 metres after of the start of the 1980 metres mobile start race. NAKULA, driven by the Respondent, was to his inside, in the one-out line. Mr Morrison was attempting to “reverse park” onto the back of MILLWOOD MELODY (Tim Williams) in the one-out line, Mr McIntyre said.
Mr McIntyre said that it was the allegation of Stewards that, at that stage, Mr Jenkins had lost his advantage over Mr Morrison and was not able to hold his position and should have been conceding his position. He carried on for a short distance before his horse broke. Once Mr Morrison got behind Mr Williams’ helmet, he held an advantage over Mr Jenkins and was entitled to get onto the back of Mr Williams’ runner. There was no other runner to the inside of Mr Jenkins. He submitted that Mr Jenkins had “reined up’” attempting to hold his position but was unable to do so and contact was made with Mr Jenkins’ runner, his horse going into a break.
Mr Jenkins submitted that Mr Morrison had come in “too severe”. He highlighted the difference in cart length – he was in a reasonably long one, Mr Morrison in a short one, he said. With the normal wheel-to-wheel contact, Mr Jenkins said, he would have naturally moved down, but Mr Morrison had come down in front of his wheel and contacted his horse’s legs. He had tried to correct his horse when Mr Morrison started to come down and Mr Morrison had got him off the back of Mr Williams’ helmet but he had come down too quickly. Mr Jenkins submitted that both Drivers had been “a little at fault”. A better, more careful manoeuvre by Mr Morrison would have enabled him, Mr Jenkins, to go down, Mr Jenkins said.
Mr McIntyre said that Stewards did not believe that Mr Morrison’s movement had been “overly sharp”. He accepted Mr Jenkins’ submission concerning the length of the respective sulkies. Mr Jenkins had made a slight error of judgement when not shifting down when losing his position on Mr Williams’ back. Mr Morrison had gained an advantage and Mr Jenkins should have been shifting a lot earlier.
REASONS FOR DECISION:
This was not a clear-cut case for the Adjudicative Committee to determine. In coming to its decision, there were a number of factors to which the Adjudicative Committee had regard. There was the difference in cart length, which Mr McIntyre conceded. Any advantage held by Mr Morrison was only ever slight and there is some merit in Mr Jenkins’ submission that the easing down movement was not gradual and was not done with as much care as it might have been.
After a consideration of those factors and from our observation of the video replays, the Adjudicative Committee concludes that it is not satisfied that the charge has been proved to the required standard. What is clear to the Adjudicative Committee is that neither Driver could be said to be entirely blameless in the incident. Mr Jenkins conceded some fault on his part but submitted that Mr Morrison contributed significantly. We agree. We do not believe that the Respondent was deliberately attempting to hold his position, and would have conceded to Mr Morrison had he been able to do so. Having so found, the Adjudicative Committee is not satisfied that the Respondent has driven carelessly.
It is interesting to note the wording of the Regulation – “where a horse does not have a clear passage during a race the driver shall be permitted to shift ground”. This was not part of the Easing Down Regulation, which was replaced by the Shifting Ground Regulation in November 2018 but, rather, is a new provision. The Adjudicative Committee is unable to find any earlier decision in which this specific point has been considered. It could be argued, and it seems reasonably clear, that the wording is intended to limit the circumstances, in which a Driver is entitled to ease another runner down, to a situation where he does not himself have a clear passage in the race. If that interpretation is correct, then it has application in the present case. Mr Morrison had a clear passage.
The charge is dismissed.
Decision Date: 18/02/2022
Publish Date: 22/02/2022