Westport TC 28 December 2023 – R7 – Paul Nairn

ID: RIB31167

Paul Nairn - Driver

Shane Renault, Stipendiary Steward

Russell McKenzie (Chair)

Persons Present:
Mr Renault, Mr Nairn

Information Number:

Decision Type:
Race Related Charge

Failing to take all reasonable and permissible measures

868(2) - Riding/driving infringement

Not Admitted

Animal Name:


Race Date:

Race Club:
Westport Trotting Club

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

Race Number:

Hearing Date:

Hearing Location:
Patterson Park, Westport

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Open Driver, Paul Nairn suspended for 7 days


Following the running of Race 7, Caltex Durban Chief Westport Trotters Cup Handicap, Open Driver, Paul Nairn, denied a charge that, as the Driver of TU TANGATA in the Race, he “failed to take all reasonable and permissible measures to win the race when failing to show sufficient vigour in the run home”.

Rule 868 provides:

(2)   Every driver shall take all reasonable and permissible measures at all times during the race to ensure that his horse is given full opportunity to win the race or to obtain the best possible position and/or finishing place.


Stipendiary Steward, Shane Renault, showed a video replay of the final 200-300 metres of the Race. He pointed out TU TANGATA, driven by the Respondent, racing in the one-one as the field neared the home turn. The leader, UNICO VACANZA, then galloped leaving BOYZ INVASION (Wilson House), which had been parked, as the lead horse, with TU TANGATA outside it.

Mr Renault said that the Respondent was “holding onto” his horse and continued to do so, looking to his outside appearing to believe that he had BOYZ INVASION covered, and just doing enough. In the meantime, the eventual winner, ANNA’S BOY (Ben Hope) was making good ground in the passing lane. The Respondent looked to his inside and gave his horse “a couple of flicks” (Mr Renault later called them “slight taps”) when he saw that other horse.

Mr Renault said that, from the top of the straight, the Respondent was just doing enough to keep BOYZ INVASION at bay and had been caught out by the strong late run of ANNA’S BOY over the concluding stages. The Respondent should have made more of an effort to ensure that his horse was going away in the straight rather than doing nothing and just holding onto it. As a result of the Respondent’s lack of action, ANNA’S BOY had caught him out and won the race by an official margin of a long neck over TU TANGATA.

Mr Renault alleged that the Respondent has not taken any action in the home straight, apart from just holding his horse until the last 50 metres. He has failed to take all reasonable and permissible measures to ensure his horse was given full opportunity to win the Race, Mr Renault said.

The Respondent said that he could fully understand the charge being brought but, in his defence he said, the horse had had its first run on grass for some time, just two days ago. It had galloped on that occasion, without warning, on the bend in that race. It is a horse that can make a mistake, and he was mindful that it could happen again. The reason that he had not “kicked clear” was that, having BOYZ INVASION beside it kept its mind “on the job” more. He knew that he had BOYZ INVASION covered and, therefore, was in no hurry to clear that runner. The horse was doing its best and he was “growling” at it and urging it along.

The Respondent said that the horse had “missed away”, which may have had an effect. Asked by the Adjudicative Committee, he said that he had not noticed ANNA’S BOY until the last 50 metres or so, and that runner had momentum up. He would be guilty of the charge had the horse been one that could be driven out and not gallop, he said. As the Trainer of the horse, and knowing the horse, he wanted it to trot all the way as well as win the Race, rather than gallop and get nothing.

He said that he was aware that he had BOYZ INVASION covered, and it was a matter of keeping his horse’s mind on the job. Had he gone clear, it might have “knocked off”. ANNA’S BOY had “too much momentum”, he said. The winning time was 4.17 (in fact, 4-17.7) so the horse had done well, he submitted.

Mr Renault concluded by saying that the Respondent had believed that the only horse to beat was BOYZ INVASION, so he was just doing enough to beat that runner, and did not expect ANNA’S BOY to get up late and beat him. He had been caught out. Any viewer of the Race could fairly claim the Respondent had not given the horse every opportunity. It was under a hold and the Respondent was holding onto it. He had failed to take the “swoopers” out of the equation.


The charge was found proved.


The Respondent’s defence to the charge was, essentially, that the best way of winning the Race was to handle his horse with care, and do no more than was necessary to win the race. That is acceptable, so long as the Race is won and no effort has been spared to achieve the win.

It is laudable that the Respondent should wish to not pressure the horse, in the hope that it would not gallop in the run home, as he feared it may do, if pressured. However, that will not amount to a defence to a charge of failing to take all reasonable and permissible measures, should the horse fail to obtain the best possible finishing position.

The Adjudicative Committee delivered a brief oral decision following the hearing of the charge as follows:

“Mr Nairn’s drive, on this occasion, could be described as “casual” or “overconfident”. A Driver has an obligation, in terms of the Rule, to ensure that his horse is given “full opportunity to win the Race or finish in the best possible position or finishing place”, in this case 1st. The Adjudicative Committee finds that Mr Nairn has not done this and, while he thought he was doing his best for the horse, his drive over the concluding stages was culpable and punters were entitled to expect more and could justifiably feel let down”.

The Respondent was quite candid in explaining that there were reasons why he drove TU TANGATA as he did and, significantly, even said that he could fully understand the charge being brought. Further, he freely admitted that he had not seen ANNA’S BOY until late. Even from that point, his efforts to urge the horse were minimal to say the least in the Adjudicative Committee’s view, involving as they did only a couple of “slight taps”, to use Mr Renault’s description. Such efforts were “too little, too late”.

The Respondent had not asked his horse for its optimum effort over the concluding stages, as he was obliged to do, and his failure to do so has, most likely, cost his horse winning the Race. He has failed to take all reasonable and permissible efforts. ANNA’S BOY had momentum, as the Respondent rightly said, but TU TANGATA had been denied the opportunity by the Respondent to have any momentum.


Mr Renault said that the Respondent has had 42 drives this season. He has a clear record under the Rule.

The Penalty Guide starting point is a suspension of 7 days for a mid-range breach, Mr Renault said. He submitted that an uplift was appropriate for loss of a possible 1st placing. Stewards’ submission was for a suspension of 8-9 days, he said.

The Respondent indicated he wished to have a deferment until after the meeting of Reefton TC on 30 December. Upcoming meetings were then looked at.


The Adjudicative Committee noted the starting point under the RIB Harness Racing Penalty Guide (February 2023) – a 7-day suspension. That is for a mid-range breach. The present breach can be regarded as mid-range. The Adjudicative Committee does not believe that this breach is higher than mid-level, which would justify an uplift from the Penalty Guide starting point.

Notwithstanding the Respondent’s clear record, the Committee finds that there are no mitigating factors.

Accordingly, the penalty is to be a suspension of 7 days.


The Respondent’s request for a deferment is granted. His Open Driver’s Licence is suspended from after the conclusion of racing on 30 December 2023 up to and including 21 January 2024 – 7 days.








Decision Date: 28/12/2023

Publish Date: 01/01/2024