Waikato RC 29 September 2023 – R7 – Sam Spratt
Waikato Thoroughbred Racing
Te Rapa Racecourse - Te Rapa Road, Hamilton, 3200
Te Rapa Racecourse
Outcome: Not Proved
Following the running of Race 7, an Information was filed pursuant to Rule 636(1)(d).The Informant, Mr Dooley, Stipendiary Steward alleged that Ms Spratt failed to ride AMUSEZ MOI out to the finish when there was a reasonable chance of finishing into a higher placing (1st).
Ms Spratt, was present, acknowledged that she understood the Rule and advised the Adjudicative Committee she would defend the charge.
Rule 636(1)(d) provides: A person being the rider of a horse in a race must ride his or her horse out to the end of the race if there is a reasonable chance of it running into a position for which there is prize money to be awarded or a dividend to be declared.
The Adjudicative Committee Chair outlined the hearing process for the benefit of all parties prior to receiving submissions.
Stipendiary Stewards Submissions
Senior Stipendiary Steward Mr Jones demonstrated the incident using the available video footage. The videos were shown at normal speed and in slow motion, with both the head on and side on views shown. Mr Jones identified AMUSEZ MOI ridden by S Spratt and PEARL OF ALSACE ridden by M McNab, which was to the outer of AMUSEZ MOI.
Mr Jones said that (inside the last 100m) Ms Spratt was riding her horse forward and using the whip behind the saddle. He said that it was the Stewards’ submission that Ms Spratt relaxed her ride, coming up in the saddle for 1-1.5 strides before going back down and pushing her mount, for 2 more strides (to the finish line). He said there was a chance of her mount finishing in a better position at that stage of the race.
Mr Dooley said the official margin was a nose between first and second. He said that the horse was vetted with no abnormalities detected and when Ms Spratt was interviewed, she was asked whether she was okay to keep riding for the rest of the day (ensuring there were no underlying medical issues that could be considered in relation to the incident)
Ms Spratt asked Mr Jones as to whether the stride and a half he referred to was accurate and whether her hands stopped pushing at any stage. Mr Jones’ response was that he thought for the 1 to 1.5 strides, Ms Spratt did stop riding out, and while her hands were moving with the horse, he believed she wasn’t pushing the horse out.
Respondent Submissions (S Spratt)
Ms Spratt opened by saying she was riding an outsider and the eventual winner PEARL OF ALSACE, was a hot favourite. She said that PEARL OF ASACE had gone past her horse at about the 50m mark and continued going further past her, while she was pushing out.
Ms Spratt said could anyone actually say for that margin where she barely came up, that she would have beaten the other horse. She said she didn’t know what she did (whether it was her legs) but on the backward stride, she came up and on the next forward stride, she was pushing to the line. She added that in her opinion, at no stage did she stop using her hands (to ride forward). She said she fumbled a bit and this was evident in the way she used her whip in the prior stride (different to Ms Spratt’s normal style).
Ms Spratt closed by saying after the line, PEARL OF ALSACE continued to move further ahead of her mount.
The Stipendiary Stewards had no questions of Ms Spratt’s evidence.
Stipendiary Stewards Summary
Mr Dooley said that there was no intent by Ms Spratt and clearly it was a misjudgment and a Rider has an obligation under the Rules to ride their mount out to the end of the race, so there is no doubt as to the outcome. He said there that the Stewards were unanimous in their view that Ms Spratt had breached and read out the Rule for context. He said the Stewards didn’t have to prove that AMUSEZ MOI would have or may have beaten PEARL OF ALSACE, there just needed to be a reasonable chance of that occurring.
Ms Spratt said that she did not stop riding and her hands had carried on moving. She said there was no chance that AMUSEZ MOI could have beaten PEARL OF ALSACE, PEARL OF ALSACE had gained a margin over AMUSEZ MOI earlier in the straight and maintained that to the finish line. She said she had given her mount everything and it still couldn’t win.
Reasons for Decision
For the charge to be upheld, the Adjudicative Committee needed to be comfortably satisfied that on the balance of probabilities, Ms Spratt had failed to ride her mount out to the finish of the race and if that was the case, there was a reasonable chance of her finishing in a better placing. It is a relatively serious charge and the penalty associated in this case, was the starting point of a 5 week suspension.
The Adjudicative Committee had viewed the video on a number of times during the hearing and also had access to the video footage during deliberation, which it viewed independently to the parties.
The Adjudicative Committee established through the video evidence that from the 150m, PEARL OF ALSACE who was to the outside of AMUSEZ MOI, took a slight advantage over AMUSEZ MOI. Both horses then went stride for stride under strong urgings from both Jockeys to the finish line.
Approximately 3 strides from the finish line, Ms Spratt’s head comes up for approximately 1 stride. Ms Spratt’s body still remains over the horse (she has not stood up in the irons) and she has not dropped her hands, which tends to be common when Riders ease up, in fact her hands are still urging her horse forward all the way to the finish line i.e., she was pushing forward, endeavouring to get the best out of her mount in a tight and competitive finish.
Ms Spratt’s mount does not ease, shorten stride, lose momentum, or decelerate and appears to be giving its best.
The Adjudicative Committee does not view Ms Spratt’s alteration of riding style for 1 stride, constitutes a failure to ride out to the end of the race when there was a reasonable chance that she would have finished in a better position i.e. first place. The standard of proof required is on the balance of probabilities. In the circumstances of this case, that standard has not been met because in the judgment of the Adjudicative Committee, it has not been satisfactorily established that it was more probable than not, that Ms Spratt failed to ride her mount out to the finish. The charge is therefore dismissed.
The charge is dismissed.
Decision Date: 29/09/2023
Publish Date: 02/10/2023