NZ Metro TC 13 October 2023 – R8 – Zachary Butcher
NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club Inc
Addington Raceway - 75 Jack Hinton Drive, Addington, Christchurch, 8024
Addington Raceway, Christchurch
Penalty: Open Driver, Zachary Butcher suspended 3 days
Following the running of Race 8, Airpark Canterbury Flying Stakes (Group 1), Open Driver Zachary Butcher, admitted a charge of careless driving in that, as the Driver of MERLIN in the Race, he shifted ground outwards near the 350 metres, checking WHO’S DELIGHT (Gavin Smith), with trailing runners also being hampered.
Rule 896 provides as follows:
(3) No driver in any race shall drive carelessly.
Chief Stipendiary Steward, Nigel McIntyre, had Stipendiary Steward, Shane Renault, show a video replay of the incident with approximately 350 metres to run. Mr Renault pointed out MERLIN, driven by the Respondent, racing five places back on the markers as the field left the back straight. The Respondent, shortly thereafter, was able to shift away from the markers to the outside of SOONER THE BETTOR (Tony Herlihy) and, in attempting to improve outside the weakening runner, BLUTO (Sarah O’Reilly), caused interference to WHO’S DELIGHT (Gavin Smith) which was racing to his outside. Other runners on the outside were also hampered, Mr Renault said. Those other runners were not really improving, Mr McIntyre said. The worst affected was the eventual winner, DON’T STOP DREAMING, he said.
The Respondent did not have a sufficient advantage over Mr Smith, entitling Mr Smith to hold him in, which he did, Mr Renault said.
Mr McIntyre added that the other concern that the Stewards had was the sharpness of the manoeuvre.
The Respondent said that it turned out not to be the best option at the time. He should have been more careful, he said, but the effect on any other runner or runners was minimal.
In mitigation, the Respondent called Driver, Gavin Smith. Mr Smith said his horse was not the most tractable. It naturally lays in. His runner would have laid in and fought in any event, he said. He demonstrated on the replay that it had laid in for the next hundred metres or so. It was not the easiest horse to drive, he said.
The charge having been admitted, it is deemed proved.
SUBMISSIONS FOR PENALTY:
Mr McIntyre said that the Respondent has had 297 drives to date this season. He has a previous breach for careless driving, striking a wheel on 15 January 2023, outside of the 6 months reset period. His record is, therefore, clear and a very good one.
The starting point for penalty under the Penalty Guide for careless driving in a Group 1 race is a 5-day suspension. Taking into account the Respondent’s good record and the “limited impact” on other runners a suspension of 3-4 days would be appropriate, Mr McIntyre submitted.
The Respondent asked the Adjudicative Committee to have regard to his good record, the contribution from Mr Smith’s runner and the minimal effect on other runners. He sought a deferment until after racing at Auckland on 19 October next.
REASONS FOR PENALTY:
Having regard to all factors, the Adjudicative Committee finds that the breach was at the lower end of careless. Whilst the Respondent has shifted out onto Mr Smith’s runner causing some interference to it and very minor interference to a number of other runners, we believe that the breach stills sits in the low-to-mid range The Respondent has made a very frank admission of the breach and his record is an excellent one by any standard.
The starting point for penalty in the RIB Harness Racing Penalty Guide (February 2023) for careless driving in a Group 1 Race is a 5-day suspension. That is for a mid-range breach and the present breach is below mid-level This warrants a reduction in the starting point to 4 days.
From a starting point of 4 days, we are able to give the Respondent a 1-day discount for his admission of the breach and his excellent race-driving record.
The Respondent, Open Driver, Zachary Butcher, is suspended from after the close of racing on 19 October 2023 up to and including 27 October 2023 – 3 days.
Decision Date: 13/10/2023
Publish Date: 18/10/2023