Rangiora HRC 18 December 2022 – R5 – LIL MISS MUSCLES
LIL MISS MUSCLES
Rangiora Harness Racing Club
Rangiora Racecourse - 312 Lehmans Road, Fernside, Rangiora, 7440
Outcome: Protest Upheld
Penalty: LIL MISS MUSCLES is disqualified
Following the running of Race 5, Jack Behrns Memorial Trot, the Applicant, Stipendiary Steward Paul Williams, filed an Information instigating a protest pursuant to Rule 862 alleging that LIL MISS MUSCLES, driven by the Respondent, had started in advance of its correct barrier position.
Trainer of LIL MISS MUSCLES, Mark Jones, was present at the hearing of the protest.
Rule 859 (amended in November 2021) provides as follows:
(3) When a horse starts in advance of its mark or correct barrier position, in addition to any other penalty that may be imposed, the horse shall be disqualified and deemed to be scratched from the race.
The provisional placings were:
1st 3 Latrell
2nd 1 Ruthless Lizzie
3rd 10 Lil Miss Muscles
4th 2 Ginas Majesty
5th 7 Lunar Rosa
Stipendiary Steward, Paul Williams explained that the front line limit for this race (2600 metres standing start) was 8, and LIL MISS MUSCLES had drawn to start from 1 on the second line. He then showed a video replay of the start of the race and pointed out that LIL MISS MUSCLES, had started from the outside of the front line – in advance of its mark or correct barrier position, as it should have started from the inside of the second line, he said.
The late scratching of Horse No. 9, GREENBANK DON, had been advised at 11.10 am this morning and advised to the Starter, Mr Williams said. Mr Williams said that the Rule requires that the horse shall be disqualified.
Mr Jones said that eight horses had started from the front line and LIL MISS MUSCLES had drawn 8. The Driver had been told, at the start, that she was to start from the outside of the front line. She had done what the Starter had told her and had done nothing wrong, he said. The horse should not be penalised, he said. Some “common sense” should be applied, he said.
Stipendiary Steward, Shane Renault, in response to a question from the Adjudicative Committee, said that a Driver is entitled to question the Starter in such circumstances, and the matter will be resolved by the Stewards. Regulation 11.1 of the Starting Regulations, which Mr Renault read to the hearing, provides:
If any driver intimates to the Starter that he or she considers any horse has been placed by the Starter on the wrong mark, the race shall not be started until the Starter has reported the matter to the Stipendiary Stewards and received their decision which shall be final and subject to no appeal.
Mr Williams said that it could have been expected of the Driver to have been aware of her barrier position prior to going out onto the track. Mr Jones said, when they arrived at the track, they thought that the horse was to start from 1 on the second line.
REASONS FOR DECISION:
The wording of the Rule is clear – if a horse starts in advance of its mark or correct barrier position, the horse shall be disqualified. The Adjudicative Committee is satisfied that the LIL MISS MUSCLES has started in advance of its mark or correct barrier position. It was drawn to have started on the second line but, in fact, has started from the front line, and therefore in advance of its correct barrier position. Having found that to be the case, the Rule allows the Adjudicative Committee no discretion but must disqualify the horse.
The circumstances around this situation are unfortunate if, indeed, Ms Thornley was misdirected by the Starter. The Stewards did not dispute that she may have been. However, that is not a factor that the Adjudicative Committee can take into account. The Rule does not permit the Adjudicative Committee to have regard to such or any other circumstances. The fact that the horse did start in advance of its mark or correct barrier position requires that it be disqualified, regardless of the circumstances in which this came to happen.
By way of clarification, when the field for Race 5 was published, LIL MISS MUSCLES was Number 10 and had therefore drawn barrier 10 at the 2600 metres standing start. Prior to the scratching deadline/right of re-entry time for the race the previous evening, there was one scratching notified – No. 6 SHES SO RIGHT. The effect of this was that LIL MISS MUSCLES moved from barrier position 10 into barrier position 9 – that is to say, barrier position 1 on the second line. Clause 5.5.1 of the Starting Regulations provides:
In the case of a standing start where a vacant position occurs on the front line no horse shall be promoted from the second line to the front line after the right of re-entry time.
GREENBANK DON (Number 9), which would been moved in to barrier 8 as a result of the earlier scratching, was scratched after the right of re-entry time. Therefore, in terms of that provision in the Starting Regulations, LIL MISS MUSCLES does not get promoted from the second line to the front line.
Mr Jones admitted that he was aware on race morning that LIL MISS MUSCLES had drawn to start from 1 on the second line, following the scratching of SHES SO RIGHT the previous day. He should also have been aware that the right of re-entry time had passed and, therefore, the barrier draw of the horse would not change as a result of any horse on the front line subsequently being late scratched, as was the case. He should accept part of the blame himself in not informing his Driver, Miss Thornley.
Finally, it was noted by the then Judicial Committee in a 2018 decision (two unplaced horses incorrectly started from the front line and were disqualified) that “those persons who placed investments on the two horses did so in the anticipation they would start from their correct marks, i.e. the second line, near the markers. They did not.” That is worth a mention.
The Protest is upheld and LIL MISS MUSCLES is disqualified. It is further ordered that LIL MISS MUSCLES be deemed to be scratched from the race.
Consequent upon the disqualification, the amended result for the race is as follows:
1st 3 Latrell
2nd 1 Ruthless Lizzie
3rd 2 Ginas Majesty
4th 7 Lunar Rosa
It was ordered that stakes and dividends be paid in accordance with that amended result.
Decision Date: 18/12/2022
Publish Date: 18/01/2023