Waikato RC 10 July 2021 – R 1 – Erin Leighton

ID: RIB3335

Erin Leighton - Apprentice Jockey

Mr J Oatham, Chief Stipendiary Steward

Mr G Jones (Chair)

Persons Present:
Mr Oatham, Miss Leighton, Mr N Harris (Northern Rider Mentor)

Information Number:

Decision Type:
Race Related Charge

Excessive use of the Whip

638(3)(b)(ii) - Contravention whip rule



Race Date:

Race Club:
Waikato Racing Club

Race Location:
Te Rapa Racecourse - Te Rapa Road, Hamilton, 3200

Race Number:

Hearing Date:

Hearing Location:
Te Rapa

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Apprentice Jockey Erin Leighton fined $500


This charge arises from the running of Race 1.  An Information was filed pursuant to Rule 638(3)(b)(ii) by the Applicant, Mr Oatham, alleging that Apprentice Jockey, Erin Leighton used her whip excessively when riding TEEN TITAN prior to the 100 metres.

Miss Leighton was supported at the hearing by the Northern Rider Mentor, Mr N Harris.

Miss Leighton confirmed that she admitted the breach and that she understood the nature of the charge.

Rule 638(3)(b)(ii) provides:

A Rider shall not strike a horse with a whip in a manner or to an extent which is:  

  • unnecessary, or
  • excessive, or
  • improper

Without affecting the generality of Rule 638(3)(b), a rider may be penalised if their whip use is outside of the following guidelines:

Flat Races

Prior to the 100-metre mark in a race, official trial or jump out:

  • The whip should not be used on more than 5 occasions.
  • The whip should not be used in consecutive strides.
  • The rider may at their discretion use the whip with a slapping motion down the shoulder, with the whip hand remaining on the reins. 

In the final 100 metres, the whip may be used at the Rider’s discretion.  

Using the available race films Chief Stipendiary Steward, Mr Oatham demonstrated the breach. He identified that Miss Leighton struck her mount twice entering the home straight and then a further six times between the straight entrance and the 100-metre mark.

In response Miss Leighton said she agreed with the Steward’s assessment of the breach and had nothing further to add.

Mr Harris said that the strikes were not aggressive.


As Miss Leighton admitted the breach the Committee found the charge proved.


Mr Oatham said that this is Miss Leighton’s second breach of the Rule within the 6-month reset period.  The previous breach occurred at Wanganui JC on 5 June 2021.

He said that the strikes were not forceful.

Mr Oatham submitted that as there is no aggravating or mitigating factors, and a fine of $500 would be appropriate under the circumstances.  He further asked the Committee to note the fact that Apprentice Riders do not have immediate access to their earnings.

In terms of penalty neither Miss Leighton nor Mr Harris offered submissions.


The Penalty Guide starting point for a second breach of this Rule is a $500 fine, which is inclusive of admission of the breach and riding record.

The Committee considered all the evidence and submissions and took particular note of the number and frequency of strikes as well as the force used.  In that regard the number of strikes was confirmed as 8 and it was noted that, for the most part, they were not forceful nor were they continuous.

The Committee is aware that Apprentice Riders are unable to draw down on the race riding earnings but in the circumstances of this breach did not see this as good reason to reduce the quantum of fine or to depart from the penalty guide. The discretion to deviate from the penalty guide in cases that have animal welfare impacts, such as excessive use of whip, are extremely limited.  To deviate there would need to be compelling or exceptional circumstances.  In this case there are no such circumstances.

Therefore, due to there being no aggravating or mitigating factors associated with this breach, there are no persuasive reasons to depart from the $500 starting point.


Accordingly, Miss Leighton was fined $500.

Decision Date: 10/07/2021

Publish Date: 12/07/2021