Day At The Track

Two charges against George Schembri

12:00 PM 13 Apr 2017 NZST
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Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards have completed an inquiry into the whip use of George Schembri, when the driver of Surf On By, during the preliminary of Race 3 at the Kilmore meeting conducted on Friday, 24 March 2017.

The inquiry was initially adjourned to allow Stewards the opportunity to source further footage and information regarding this incident.  Veterinary examinations conducted on Surf On By approximately thirty (30) and sixty (60) minute post-race did not reveal any significant findings.

After hearing further evidence from Mr Schembri at today’s reconvened inquiry HRV Stewards issued two (2) charges against Mr Schembri under the Australian Harness Racing Rules (AHRR).

Charge one (1) was issued under the provisions of AHRR 168(1)(e) which states:

A person shall not before, during or after a race drive in a manner which is in the opinion of the Stewards:-                                   

(e)  improper

The particulars of the charge being that during the preliminary Mr Schembri drove in an improper manner by raising his whip hand above head height and using the whip with severe force on 5 occasions.

Charge two (2) was issued under the provisions of AHRR 156(2) which states:

(2)  A driver shall hold a rein in each hand at all times unless he or she is adjusting approved gear.

The particulars of the charge being that during the preliminary Mr Schembri used the whip on 5 occasions free of the rein when not adjusting approved gear.

Mr Schembri pleaded guilty to both charges.

In assessing penalty Stewards were mindful of:

  • Mr Schembri’s guilty plea;

  • Mr Schembri’s prior offence record;

  • Mr Schembri’s personal circumstances;

  • The nature of this incident, which is clearly in contrast to industry standards;

  • The incident was visible to those persons on-course and also captured by the Sky Racing International coverage.

The following penalties were subsequently imposed:

Charge one (1) – Three (3) month suspension of Mr Schembri’s licence to drive in races and a $1,000 fine.

Charge two (2) - $500 fine.

In total a three (3) month suspension of Mr Schembri’s licence to drive in races was imposed, along with fines totaling $1,500. This suspension was ordered to commence midnight 17 April 2017.

Harness Racing Victoria

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