NZ Metro TC 21 September 2023 – R10 – James Stormont
NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club Inc
Addington Raceway - 75 Jack Hinton Drive, Addington, Christchurch, 8024
Addington Raceway, Christchurch
Penalty: Open Driver, James Stormont, suspended 3 days
Following the running of Race 10, Gold Band Taxis Pace, Open Driver, James Stormont, denied a breach of the Whip Rules in that, as the Driver of MANDALAY BAY in the race, he “used his whip with more than a wrist flicking motion” in the run home.
Rule 869 provides:
(2) No driver shall during any race use a whip in a manner in contravention of the Use of the Whip Regulations made by the Board.
The Whip and Rein Regulations provide:
3.1 A driver may only apply the whip in a wrist only flicking motion whilst holding a rein in each hand with the tip of the whip pointed forward in an action which does not engage the shoulder.
3.2 For the purposes of clause 3.1, “wrist only flicking motion” means:
3.2.1 Ensuring no force is generated by the use of the elbow or shoulder when applying the whip.
Stipendiary Steward, Shane Renault, showed video replays of the final stages of the race. He pointed out MANDALAY BAY, driven by the Respondent, being eased out from the one-one to challenge 3-wide as the field entered the final straight. Mr Renault alleged that, from that point, the Respondent used his whip four times in what was more than a wrist only flicking motion, and clearly using the elbow.
The Respondent alleged that his arm was not going straight down but, rather, sideways. He said that he had been “brought up” using the whip in that manner, for 45 years. He accepted that acceptable whip use nowadays was different from what it was 45 years ago, but it was “hard to change”, he said. He likened it to trying to give up smoking.
The charge is found proved.
REASONS FOR DECISION:
The Adjudicative Committee was comfortably satisfied that the Respondent’s whip use met the test of being in more than a wrist only flicking motion as alleged. His “defence” to the charge was flimsy to say the least, and he was unable to satisfy the Adjudicative Committee that his use of the whip on the four occasions pointed out by Mr Renault, was no more than a wrist flicking motion, not involving the elbow or shoulder. The Respondent, in his submissions, argued that he was using his whip in a sideways motion. The Regulations require that the tip of the whip must be “pointed forward”.
The Adjudicative Committee pointed out to the Respondent that the Whip and Rein Regulations have been in force since 1 October 2020. Obviously, it cannot be a defence for a Driver to assert that he or she is still having difficulty in adjusting to the requirements of the Regulations after 3 years. The Adjudicative Committee notes that, in the last 3 seasons including the present, the Respondent has had in excess of 450 drives.
SUBMISSIONS FOR PENALTY:
Mr Renault said that the Respondent has had 76 drives this season. He has a previous breach on 25 August (9 drives ago) at Addington for using his whip in more than a wrist flicking motion, for which he received a $500 fine.
Stewards saw the breach as being low-level, for which the Penalty Guide provides a starting point for penalty of a 3-days suspension for a second breach, Mr Renault said. That was an appropriate penalty, he submitted.
Upcoming drives were then looked at. The Respondent advised that he had no drives at Banks Peninsula TC on 24 September. He pointed out that he has not had 76 drives since shifting to Canterbury, more like 20 he said. He gets 1 or 2 drives a week.
REASONS FOR PENALTY:
The RIB Harness Racing Penalty Guide (February 2023) provides a starting point for penalty of a 3-days suspension for a low-level second breach. A “low-level breach” is defined as “when a Driver inadvertently reverts to the old style (freehand, loose reining and/or more than a flicking motion) but promptly takes corrective steps to return to a compliant style”. The Adjudicative Committee accepts that this particular breach is a low-level one within that definition.
There are no relevant aggravating or mitigating factors to warrant a departure from the Penalty Guide starting point.
Open Driver, James Stormont, is suspended from after the close of racing on 21 September 2023, up to and including 5 October 2023 – 3 days.
It is recorded that the meeting of Banks Peninsula TC on 24 September is not included in the period of suspension. Drivers for that meeting have been notified and the Respondent advised he has no notified drives.
Decision Date: 21/09/2023
Publish Date: 25/09/2023