Timaru HRC 2 October 2022 – R5 – Justin Smith
Timaru Harness Racing Club
Phar Lap Raceway - State Highway 1, Washdyke, Timaru,
Penalty: Driver Justin Smith is suspended for 3 days and fined $200
Mr Renault alleged that Mr Smith (TAKE NOTICE) drove carelessly in Race 5 for a distance passing the 2300 metres when attempting to shift an inside runner down the track.
Mr Sole identified the Respondent racing 3-wide near the rear of the field approaching the 2300 metres. Mr Thornley (CLYDE) was racing one-off.
Mr Renault said that Mr Smith was looking to get in for some cover. There was wheel to wheel contact between the carts of Mr Smith and Mr Thornley for some distance. He emphasised that Mr Smith never had a clear advantage over Mr Thornley to be able to shift him down. He demonstrated on 3 films that they were racing head-to-head and the Respondent was applying pressure to Mr Thornley. Eventually TAKE NOTICE went into a break. He said the pressure had continued being applied for some time. He believed this had contributed to Mr Smith’s horse breaking and, in driving in this manner, Mr Smith had driven carelessly.
Mr Smith stated he had applied pressure to Mr Thornley in an endeavour to shift him down but not for as long as the Stewards alleged. He said TAKE NOTICE was keen and was getting keener, and was hanging in. He was not trying to push Mr Thornley down on the bend. He had been trying to ease his horse back for quite some time. He said it was about the 2250 metres mark that he had tried to push Mr Thornley down. He said it was only briefly, some 20 to 30 metres. He had been trying to keep his horse off Mr Thornley and to go backwards but this was contrary to what TAKE NOTICE wanted to do. It was a temperamental horse and once Mr Davis’ horse went past it had got keener and keener. It was trying to chase Mr Davis’ horse. He said Mr Thornley had not yelled to him. There was wheel contact just before TAKE NOTICE broke. He also believed Mr Thornley was racing slightly wider than the horses in front of him.
Mr Renault demonstrated on the videos with respect to TAKE NOTICE allegedly hanging that its head was not out and it appeared to be straight. Mr Smith replied it was pointed in slightly round the bend.
In summing up Mr Renault stated that from the first contact with Mr Thornley’s cart, Mr Smith had continued to apply pressure. It was wheel on wheel for some distance. Separation only occurred when TAKE NOTICE broke. Mr Smith never had an advantage over Mr Thornley. The head of TAKE NOTICE was not turned outwards, and it was in slightly on the bend.
Mr Smith responded the wheels did touch on and off for some distance, but he was not pushing Mr Thornley down.
Reasons for Decision:
The Adjudicative Committee is satisfied that the Respondent has endeavoured to push Mr Thornley inwards for some distance. The videos do not evidence that Mr Smith had an advantage over Mr Thornley in order to do this. They demonstrate that the respective carts were racing wheel to wheel for quite some time before eventually TAKE NOTICE has gone into a break.
Mr Smith has said that Mr Thornley was racing slightly wider than the horses he was following. This is not noticeable on the videos, although it is evident that Mr Thornley was resisting the downwards pressure from Mr Smith. The Respondent has said his horse was racing very keenly, hanging a touch and over-racing. The videos do not evidence that TAKE NOTICE was hanging badly, if at all.
Mr Smith has acknowledged that he was initially endeavouring to push Mr Thornley down. This has continued for too long a period of time and has contributed to Mr Smith’s horse breaking.
In these circumstances, the charge of careless driving is proved.
Submissions as to penalty:
Mr Renault produced the Respondent’s record. It evidenced 55 drives this season and 69 the last. It was clear under the Careless Driving Rule. Mr Renault submitted a 5-day suspension was appropriate as Mr Smith’s carelessness had resulted in his horse breaking. This suspension was calculated on the basis Mr Smith averaged 2 drives per meeting. Mr Smith said it was more like 2 to 3, and he had 4 horses in racing trim at present that he was intending to drive. He asked the Adjudicative Committee to take into account the horse’s manners on the day. He also asked the Adjudicative Committee to consider a suspension plus a fine and for a deferment until after the Methven meeting.
Reasons for Penalty:
The starting point in the Penalty Guide is a 10-drive suspension. The Adjudicative Committee sees no need for an uplift. The horse broke as a consequence of Mr Smith attempting to push Mr Thornley down for too long a distance, but TAKE NOTICE was also proving not to be the easiest to drive at the time. However, the Adjudicative Committee does not accept it was giving the Respondent the degree of difficulty that he has stated. A one-day discount is appropriate for good record. Four days’ suspension will be a severe punishment for Mr Smith at a time when he has 4 horses in work. A 3-day suspension together with a fine of $200 is sufficient to mark the gravity of the breach and will permit Mr Smith to drive at Ashburton.
Mr Smith is suspended from the end of racing on 9 October up to and including 21 October and is fined the sum of $200.
Decision Date: 02/10/2022
Publish Date: 06/10/2022