Westport TC 28 December 2022 – R8 (heard 30 December 2022 at Reefton) – Don Morrison

ID: RIB14394

Don Morrison - Driver

Shane Renault, Stipendiary Steward

Mr Russell McKenzie

Persons Present:
Mr Renault, Mr Morrison

Information Number:

Decision Type:
Non-race Related Charge


303(2) - Misconduct


Animal Name:


Race Date:

Race Club:
Westport Trotting Club

Race Location:
Westport Racecourse - 15 Derby Street, Westport, 7825

Race Number:

Hearing Date:

Hearing Location:
Reefton Racecourse

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Open Driver, Don Morrison, fined $300


Following the running of Race 8, NBS 160 Anniversary Handicap Trot, the Respondent, Open Driver, Don Morrison, as the Driver of OUR PEGASUS PEARL in the race, admitted a charge that he misconducted himself when taking his hand off the rein and directing it towards another driver in the run home.

The Respondent had endorsed the information “I do admit a breach of the rule” and he confirmed that he understood the Rule and the charge.

Rule 303 provides:

(2) No person or body who holds a permit or licence under these Rules and no owner, trainer, breeder, stablehand, unlicensed apprentice or racing manager shall misconduct himself or fail to comply with any request, direction, or instruction of any Stipendiary Steward, Racing Investigator or Starter.


Stipendiary Steward, Shane Renault, showed a video replay of the incident with approximately 200 metres to run. He pointed out the two runners, OUR PEGASUS PEARL, being driven forward by the Respondent, who was not carrying a whip, racing in 5th position and GOTTA TICKET, driven by Robbie Close, to its inside, running 6th.

Mr Renault then showed that the Respondent turned around, took his left hand off the rein and pointed back at Mr Close and yelled to him, before retaking hold of the rein and driving his horse out.  This behaviour is unacceptable, Mr Renault said. The Respondent should have been concentrating on what he was doing and attempting to finish in the best possible position.

Mr Renault said that the incident was shown on the Trackside TV channel and would have been seen by a large television audience.

The Respondent said he had had a bet with the trainer of Mr Close’s runner, Mark Gill, that he would beat Mr Gill’s runner home. He confirmed that Mr Close had no idea what was going on.


The charge is admitted and therefore deemed proved.


Stipendiary Steward, Shane Renault, said that the Respondent does not drive often, driving mainly his own horses. He has had 7 drives this season and had 13 drives last season.

There is no Penalty Guide starting point for a breach of the Rule, he said. The only helpful previous case was one in 2014 in the Thoroughbred Code, in which a Rider directed his whip in an aggressive manner at another rider after the finishing line. That rider was fined $250, Mr Renault said. The difference in the present case is that the races are being shown internationally and Mr Morrison’s actions were “a bad look” for Harness Racing.

Stewards were submitting that a fine of not less than $300 was appropriate.

The Respondent said that he had learned his lesson. His driving record showed that he kept out of trouble.


The Adjudicative Committee notes that there is no starting point for penalty for misconduct in the Penalty Guide. Misconduct charges are rare and the circumstances of each case can differ widely. The only similar case to the present case, to which the Committee was referred, is essentially quite different but it does provide a starting point ($250).

In this case, the Respondent has had a friendly “side bet” with a friend and rival Trainer on the final placings of their runners. He meant to cause no harm and there was no ill will. No harm was done, but there is always potential for something to happen when a Driver takes one hand off the rein and looks and points back as the Respondent has done. It is also of concern that the incident was able to be quite clearly seen on Trackside. The Respondent’s actions were detrimental to the image of Harness Racing. Those are aggravating factors warranting an uplift from the starting point of $250.


The Respondent, Open Driver Don Morrison, is fined $300.


Decision Date: 30/12/2022

Publish Date: 17/01/2023