Rangiora HRC 4 November 2022 – R1 – Andrew Fitzgerald

ID: RIB12284

Andrew Fitzgerald - Driver

Mr S Renault - Stipendiary Steward

Dave Anderson

Persons Present:
Mr S Renault - Stipendiary Steward and Mr Fitzgerald

Information Number:

Decision Type:
Race Related Charge

Striking a wheel

869(3)(b) - Riding/driving infringement - Careless Driving

Not Admitted

Animal Name:


Race Date:

Race Club:
Rangiora Harness Racing Club

Race Location:
Rangiora Racecourse - 312 Lehmans Road, Fernside, Rangiora, 7440

Race Number:

Hearing Date:

Hearing Location:
Rangiora Raceway

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Driver Andrew Fitzgerald is suspended for 6 weeks


Following the running of Race 1, Stipendiary Steward Mr Shane Renault, presented an Information alleging a breach of Rule 869(3)(b) by Amatuer Driver Andrew Fitzgerald, which was denied.

The details of the alleged breach were ” you struck the wheel of PLAY BY EAR near the 400m”


Mr Renault showed the video replay and pointed to Mr Fitzgerald racing in the one-one position at approximately 400m from the finish. He slowed and expanded the film to show Mr Fitzgerald easing out from behind PLAY BY EAR and touching its wheel, which deflated. Mr Renault said Mr Fitzgerald had made a slight error in judgment.

Mr Fitzgerald said he wasn’t denying striking the wheel, but his defence was TOMMYSONAROLL was dealing with many issues and said it was the horse’s fault.

He said the horse was very upset with the delay at the start. He said his horse was hanging and travelling too keenly when he pulled him out. He said post-race it was found TOMMYSONAROLL had struck his knee and cross-fired onto his coronet. He said the horse finished well below par and it appeared as though it may have choked down.

Reasons for Decision:

Mr Fitzgerald began his evidence by stating he had in fact, struck PLAY BY EAR’S wheel. An astounding statement given this was what he had been charged with and denied.

There are instances when a horse’s tractability can be taken into consideration when a Driver is facing a charge of Careless Driving. If a horse is hanging with its head at right angles, pulling extremely hard, locked on to one rein, or shies at something, etc, then blame can in part be attributed to such a horse. This is not the case here.

Mr Fitzgerald has to take responsibility for any error in judgment while on the racetrack, after all the reins were in his hands.


The charge was found proved.

Submissions on Penalty:

Mr Renault said Mr Fitzgerald has had 16 drives this season and 27 drives the previous season. He said there was a breach of the same Rule on 24 June 2022 where a fine of $250 was imposed.

Mr Renault said as this is Mr Fitzgerald’s second breach within a six-month period, a suspension must follow. He said a 3-day suspension equating to 6 weeks for the Amateur Driver, is the Stewards’ submission.

Mr Fitzgerald made no submissions on penalty.

Reason for Penalty:

The Penalty Guidelines suggest a 3-day suspension for a breach of this Rule, and the Adjudicative Committee sees no reason to depart from the Guidelines in this case.

The equation used for Amateur Driver suspensions allows for 2 race days per month. In this case, 3 days require a 6-week suspension.


Mr Fitzgerald’s Amateur Drivers licence is suspended from the conclusion of racing today 4 November 2022, and concluding on 16 December 2022.

Decision Date: 04/11/2022

Publish Date: 07/11/2022