Timaru HRC 3 April 2024 – R7 (heard 19 April 2024 at Ashburton) – Lionel Dobbs

ID: RIB41126

Lionel Graham Dobbs - Driver

Matthew Sole - Stipendiary Steward

Stewart Ching (Chair)

Persons Present:
Lionel Dobbs - Open Driver, Matthew Sole - Stipendiary Steward, Shane Renault - Stipendiary Steward

Information Number:

Decision Type:
Race Related Charge

Breach of Whip Rule

869(2) - Contravention whip rule


Animal Name:


Race Date:

Race Club:
Timaru Harness Racing Club

Race Location:
Phar Lap Raceway - State Highway 1, Washdyke, Timaru,

Race Number:

Hearing Date:

Hearing Location:

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Driver Lionel Dobbs is suspended for 3 days

Summary of Facts:

This was an adjourned hearing heard at the Ashburton Trotting Club’s Meeting at Ashburton on 19 April 2024.

Following the running of Race 7, the Respondent Open Driver Lionel Dobbs, admitted a breach of Whip Rule 869(2).  The particulars of the charge are that when driving BETTERTHANDIVA, he used his whip free of the rein on 2 occasions round the final bend, with more than a wrist flicking motion in the run home and out of contention. 

Rule 869 provides that:

(2) No driver shall during any race use a whip in a manner in contravention of the Use of the Whip Regulations made by the Board.

Stipendiary Steward Matthew Sole, with the assistance of Stipendiary Steward Shane Renault, used available video footage to demonstrate the breach. He pointed out Mr Dobbs driving BETTERTHANDIVA racing 3 back on the pylons rounding the final bend, where he used his whip free of the rein on 2 occasions, followed by use of the whip with more than a wrist flicking motion on 5 occasions in the run home, when out of contention.

Mr Dobbs stated that his sulky was an older model and narrower in dimension. He added that this resulted in BETTERTHANDIVA striking the sulky wheels when pacing. This had meant he had set the sulky well back on the horse and he had to reach to make contact with the whip on the horse. This caused him, he said, to engage the elbow and caused him to be in breach of the Rule.


The charge is admitted and therefore proved.

Submissions for Penalty:

Mr Sole produced the Respondent’s record, which indicated a clear record.

Mr Sole said that Stewards assessed the breach to be high-level due to the 3 degrees of the breach, being free of the rein, more than a wrist flicking motion and out of contention. He submitted that it be dealt with by way of a 3-day suspension as per the Penalty Guide, for a high level first breach. 

Mr Dobbs made no submissions on penalty, apart from making application for a deferment of penalty, until after racing at Rangiora on 28 April 2024.

Reasons for Penalty:

After consideration of the evidence from all parties concerned and viewing the race films of the concluding stages of the race, the Adjudicative Committee also assessed the breach as high-level.

The Penalty Guide provides a 3-day suspension starting point for an initial breach at a high level.

It was determined that there were no aggravating factors to consider, therefore no uplift was warranted.

After taking consideration of all factors, the Adjudicative Committee deemed a 3-day suspension to be an appropriate penalty.


Mr Dobbs’ application for a deferment until after racing on 28 April 2024, is granted.

The Respondent is suspended for a period of 3 days commencing after racing on Sunday 28 April, up to and including 5 May 2024. Relevant Racedays encompassed in this period of suspension are Addington – 1 May, Addington – 3 May and Rangiora – 5 May 2024.

Decision Date: 19/04/2024

Publish Date: 22/04/2024