NZ Metro TC 25 August 2023 – R1 – James Stormont
The Royal Gamble
NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club Inc
Addington Raceway - 75 Jack Hinton Drive, Addington, Christchurch, 8024
Addington Raceway, Christchurch
Penalty: Open Driver, James Stormont, fined $500
Following the running of Race 1, IRT. Your Horse. Our Passion. Handicap Trot, Open Driver, James Stormont, admitted a breach of the Whip Rules in that, as the Driver of THE ROYAL GAMBLE in the race, he used his whip with more than a wrist flicking motion for a distance passing the 500 metres.
Rule 869 provides:
(2) No driver shall during any race use a whip in a manner in contravention of the Whip and Rein 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.
Mr Renault showed a video replay of the relevant portion of the race, passing the 1500 metres of the 2600 metres race. He pointed out THE ROYAL GAMBLE, driven by the Respondent, racing second-to-last, and well back, in the nine-horse field, at that point. Just prior to the home turn, the Respondent pulled out to improve forward 3-wide. Mr Renault said that it was the concern of the Stewards that the Respondent, for a distance, had used the whip in more than a wrist only flicking motion as he improved around the field to the lead. The horse was racing lazy and difficult to improve, Mr Renault said.
The Respondent said that it was only the third time he had driven THE ROYAL GAMBLE. This was the first occasion on which he had driven it aggressively. Other times, he had sat back and the horse had come home well, he said. He had been caught unaware when the horse did not improve quickly when he pulled it out. The only way to get to the lead was to be aggressive, he said.
The breach having been admitted, it is deemed proved.
SUBMISSIONS FOR PENALTY:
Mr Renault said that the Respondent has had 66 drives in the current season. He received a warning 7 drives ago on 22 July for using his whip in more than a wrist only flicking motion. He submitted that the breach was mid-level because of the distance over which the Respondent had used the whip. He referred to the Penalty Guide which provided for a $500 fine or 2 day suspension. The Respondent would be asking the Adjudicative Committee for a suspension, Mr Renault said.
REASONS FOR PENALTY:
The breach in this case is mid-level (“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 Respondent has a clear record under the Rule and he has made a frank admission of the breach.
The RIB Harness Racing Penalty Guide (February 2023) provides a starting point for penalty for a mid-level, first offence of “$500 or 2 days suspension”. The Respondent has expressed a preference for a fine rather than a suspension, and the Adjudicative Committee is happy to deal with the matter that way.
There are no relevant aggravating or mitigating factors to consider.
The Respondent, Open Driver James Stormont, is fined $500.
Decision Date: 25/08/2023
Publish Date: 28/08/2023