NZ Metro TC 18 March 2022 – R8 – Ben Hope

ID: RIB8064

Respondent(s):
Ben Hope - Junior Driver

Applicant:
Nigel McIntyre, Manager of Stewards

Adjudicators:
Russell McKenzie

Persons Present:
The Applicant, the Respondent and Licensed Public Trainer, Mr Greg Hope

Information Number:
A16628

Decision Type:
Adjudicative Decision

Charge:
Careless Driving

Rule(s):
869(3)(b)

Plea:
Admitted

Animal Name:
JACK RYAN

Code:
Harness

Race Date:
18/03/2022

Race Club:
NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club Inc

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

Race Number:
R8

Hearing Date:
18/03/2022

Hearing Location:
Addington Raceway, Christchurch

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Junior Driver, Ben Hope, suspended 5 days and fined $400

SUMMARY OF FACTS:

Following the running of Race 8, Storer Motors Mobile Pace, the Respondent, Junior Driver Ben Hope, admitted a breach of Rule 869(3)(b) – namely, that, as the Driver of JACK RYAN in the race, “he shifted inwards when not sufficiently clear of the inside runner, PERAKI SEELSTER (Tim Williams), which was checked and hampered GOT YOU COVERED (Devon van Til) near the 900 metres”.

The Respondent endorsed the Information “I do admit a breach of the Rule” and confirmed that he understood the Rule and the nature of the charge. The Respondent was supported at the hearing by Licensed Public Trainer, Mr Greg Hope.

Rule 869(3)(b) provides:

No driver in any race shall drive carelessly”.

Using available video replays, Manager of Stewards, Nigel McIntyre, identified the horses involved in the incident – namely, JACK RYAN, PERAKI SEELSTER and GOT YOU COVERED. He showed that, passing the 1000 metres, JACK RYAN was progressing 3-wide. SAMHARA (Natalie Rasmussen) was racing in the parked position. Immediately inside Mr Hope was PERAKI SEELSTER. Approaching the 900 metres, Mr Hope attempted to shift in onto the back of Ms Rasmussen while Mr Williams was still inside him.

Mr McIntyre then showed that Mr Williams had to take a “severe hold” of his horse resulting in Ms van Til, driving GOT YOU COVERED which had been following him, also having to take a severe hold. There was never was a full gap for Mr Hope to shift in. There was an onus on him to ensure that he was clear before shifting in, Mr McIntyre said. Mr Hope had made a misjudgement and had placed Mr Williams and Ms van Til in an awkward situation and having to take hold, Mr McIntyre said.

In explanation, Mr Greg Hope said that the horse had galloped at the start. He is a “pretty erratic horse”, he said, wears two poles and has “issues”. The Respondent was having difficulty steering the horse. He suggested that a lot of the blame for the incident could be put on the horse. He submitted that the other two runners affected still had their chance.

DECISION:

The charge is admitted by the Respondent and is therefore deemed proved.

SUBMISSIONS FOR PENALTY:

Manager of Stewards, Mr McIntyre, produced the Respondent’s record under the Careless Driving Rule as follows:

23 January 2022 at Banks Peninsula, suspended 3 days;

27 February 2022 at Oamaru, suspended 3 days; and

12 March 2022 at Invercargill, suspended 4 days. This suspension commences on 19 March and is up to and including 23 March 2022.

Mr McIntyre said that, in the extended 2020/2021 season, Mr Hope had 146 drives and, in the current season (from 1 January 2022) has had 97 drives.

Two Drivers had been placed in a difficult situation and were checked as a result of Mr Hope’s carelessness, Mr McIntyre submitted. He submitted that, taking this factor into account and Mr Hope’s record, Stewards saw a 5 or 6 days suspension as being an appropriate penalty for this breach.

The Respondent asked if a combined penalty of a suspension and a fine could be considered by the Adjudicative Committee. Mr McIntyre said that Stewards would have no objection to such a course of action in this case. There has been a recent precedent for this, he added.

The Respondent said that he accepted that his record was “not great” and  added that, while JACK RYAN is a “funny horse”, he had made a mistake on this occasion.

REASONS FOR PENALTY:

The Penalty Guide provides a penalty starting point of a 3-days suspension for a second breach within 6 months. This breach is the Respondent’s fourth breach in two months since 23 January which represents a very poor record. This needs to be reflected in penalty – some specific deterrence is called for.

After taking into account the submissions of both the Applicant and the Respondent, noting the video replays and the resultant impact on the affected runners, the Adjudicative Committee assessed the breach as mid-range. An uplift from the Penalty Guide starting point is required for a fourth breach, and the Adjudicative Committee has settled on a 4-day uplift. The resulting term of suspension is one of 6 days. Against that, Mr Hope is entitled to a discount for his very frank admission of the breach. The Adjudicative Committee has also taken into account Mr Hope Snr’s submission that the horse is a difficult drive. A discount of 1 day is given for those mitigating factors.

In deciding upon a final penalty, the Adjudicative Committee considered that, although a 5-days suspension is a stern penalty, perhaps to add weight by way of a deterrent factor, a monetary penalty is also appropriate.

The Adjudicative Committee cannot stress enough that a fourth careless driving charge in the last 2 months is, simply, not acceptable and the Respondent needs to address this issue as a matter of priority.

CONCLUSION:

Junior Driver, Ben Hope’s, licence is suspended for 5 days commencing on 24 March 2022 and concluding after close of racing on 3 April 2022. The meetings intended to be encompassed by the period of disqualification are Addington on 25 March, Oamaru on 27 March, Winton on 31 March, Addington on 1 April 2022 and Rangiora on 3 April 2022.

In addition, Mr Hope is fined the sum of $400.

Decision Date: 18/03/2022

Publish Date: 21/03/2022