Rangiora HRC 4 November 2022 – R8 – Lionel Dobbs

ID: RIB12325

Lionel Dobbs - Driver

Mr S Renault - Stipendiary Steward

Dave Anderson

Persons Present:
Mr S Renault - Stipendiary Steward, Mr Nigel McIntyre - Chairman of Stewards, Mr Dobbs

Information Number:

Decision Type:
Race Related Charge

Diminishing chances.

869(3)(g) - Riding/driving infringement - Diminishing chances


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 Lionel Dobbs is suspended for 6 months.


Following the running of Race 8, Stipendiary Steward Mr Shane Renault presented an Information alleging a breach of Rule 869(3)(g) by Driver Mr Lionel Dobbs which was admitted.

The Details of the Information are: you drove in a manner capable of diminishing the chances of your horse winning when electing to race three wide.

Mr Dobbs confirmed he was conversant with the Rule and that he understood the charge.

Rule 869(3)(g) states: No driver in any race shall drive:- (g) in a manner capable of diminishing the chances of his horse winning.


Mr Renault played the replay of the race identifying Mr Dobbs drawn 7 on the 10m barrier. He pointed to IMAJOLLYWALLY breaking at the start and racing to the winning post in the 3-wide line. He said around the first corner Mr Dobbs had endevoured to push FOVEAUX GAMBLER (Sheree Tomlinson) inwards, but was unable to achieve the manoeuvre. Mr Renault ran the video through to the front straight 1400m from the finish, where Mr Dobbs looked to drive into a half gap but again, was unable to do so. For the next 1000m, Mr Dobbs was still 3 wide until he began to weaken at 400m, to eventually finish at the rear of the field in a large gap.

Mr Renault stated Mr Dobbs had 3 options when caught 3 wide soon after the start,

(1) Pull back and take a trail.

(2) Drive his horse forward to the parked position.

(3) Remain 3 wide, which he elected to do.

Mr Renault said, Stewards contend Mr Dobbs diminished his chances by remaining where he was. He said Mr Dobbs had the opportunity to pull back just one position and take a trail for the first 1600m of the race and give his horse some respite, but chose not to.

Mr Dobbs stated he was “gutted he had driven in this manner”. He said it was not intentional and he was doing his best but had made poor judgment calls.


As the charge was admitted, it was deemed proved.

Submissions for Penalty:

Mr Renault stated Mr Dobbs has had 110 drives in his career, 14 in this current season and 26 in the previous season. He said his record is clear for this uncommon Rule.

Mr Renault said there are 3 parts to the Rule:

(1) Miscounting rounds – 15 drives or a $750 fine.

(2) Race dueling – 40 drives or a $2000 fine

(3) Incompetent driving – 60 drives or a $3000 fine.

Mr Renault said this drive does not encompass the first two but is more relevant to the third. He said the maximum period of suspension is 12 months under the Rule which is not appropriate in this case, but a period of suspension is required and the Stewards’ submission is no less than 6 months.

Mr Dobbs said if he could have the race over again he would have pulled back, but the instinct to go forward kicked in. He said he accepts a long period of suspension is inevitable.

Reasons for Penalty:

This breach, for which is an uncommon Rule, has no previous cases with the same circumstances to help the Adjudicative Committee settle on an apposite sanction. Mr Dobbs’s drive was totally unacceptable for what should be expected from a competent Driver. It could be seen to bewilder a punter who may have placed a bet on IMAJOLLYWALLY.

Mr Dobbs genuinely apologised at the hearing for his misjudgment and was noticeably upset when viewing his performance on video. Mr Dobbs requested a deferment to enable him to drive his horse at Ashburton this coming Thursday which was granted.

The Adjudicative Committee agrees with Mr Renault’s submission, a considerable period of suspension is required to penalise a serious breach such as this.


Mr Dobbs’ licence to drive is suspended for 6 months, commencing after 10 November 2022 and concluding on 10 May 2023.

Decision Date: 04/11/2022

Publish Date: 07/11/2022