Day At The Track

JCA in the gun over $350 fine

12:54 PM 04 Jan 2015 NZDT
Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print
Breaking The Rules
Breaking The Rules

The judicial system in harness racing in New Zealand is one of those creatures that attracts criticism from time to time when it is seen to do little about incidents sometimes while at other times appearing to be heavy handed in their decisions.

It is a fine balancing act to try to be even handed and at the same time protect the all important image of the industry we are all involved in.

The stewards have to rely on the JCA to get it right and when they don't everybody wears the blowback that follows.

Most of the time you could argue they get it right but the volume of emails we have received since the final of the Sires Stakes final for 3 year old fillies at Auckland on New Year Eve would suggest that in relation to that particular race, the JCA have erred badly.

When Maurice McKendry on The Orange Agent went to improve three wide 1200 metres out in that race, he did so in the knowledge that he couldn't be pushed out wider under the current rules until 1000 metres from the finish .

What his move did do was flush Mark Purdon on Supersonic Miss out three wide in front of him at the 1150 metre mark which should have given Maurice a nice drag into the race.

Instead Zac Butcher on Democrat Party  pushed him out four wide at that point and he got onto the back of Supersonic Miss instead of Maurice.

Maurice had no option but to drop back but couldn't slot in as Fight For Glory had legally got on to the back of Democrat Party in the three wide line which meant while his opposition was going forward, Maurice was dragging The Orange Agent back so he could drop into the three wide line.

With the last 800 metres off the front being run in 54.6 and the 400 metres in 27 flat, The Orange Agent was no chance to run in the money from the time she was pushed out four wide.

Instead of being handy when the speed went on at the 800 metres,The Agent Orange was well back in the field and wide.

As to be expected the siren went and the stewards looked at the video and applied the rules as they stand.

With The Orange Agent finishing 5th some 12 lengths from the winner they were never going to be successful in having Democrat Party relegated before the JCA.

They did however charge Zac Butcher under rule 869 and its various sub -sections in that between the 1100  metres and the 1000 metres he had pushed Maurice McKendry and The Orange Agent out four wide when not entitled to do so.

Zac pleaded guilty before the JCA and was fined the sum of $350 - and that is what has so many of our emailers so upset.

This was a Group 1 race worth $150,000 and is keenly sought after by owners of fillies for their resume later on.

In this case The Orange Agent was the dominating favourite and basically had her chances extinguished when shunted out four wide by Zac Butcher on Democrat Party.

The penalty must fit the offense in these cases and to fine someone $350 for breaking a longstanding rule in a $150,000 Group 1 race is manifestly inadequate.

The owners and trainer have done nothing wrong and to penalize them in circumstances such as these would be wrong.

But the driver is guilty in this instance of a major infraction of our rules and the penalty should have reflected that.

The message that the $350 fine sends to all drivers in major races in New Zealand is that if you do happen to knock the favourite out of contention, the consequences are likely to be very minor.

A more appropriate penalty in our view would have been a fine in line with the drivers percentage that Zac will receive for driving the winner.

That would have sent a clear message that major infractions are going to have major consequences.

Not that the stewards covered themselves in glory with the other issue raised by a lot of the people contacting us.

Kate Perry drew barrier eight in the race and was sent forward bigtime to grab the lead after 200 metres and then refused to hand up to the favoured runner Classical Art for the next 400 metres as the two fillies drew clear in a lead time of 40.3.

Natalie Rasmussen had an excuse on Classical Art as one of the deafeners had come out and she started to badly over race.

Todd Mitchell on Kate Perry had no such excuse and having run her first 600 in 40.3 from barrier eight, she predictably started to give ground from the 700 metres mark, finishing last 47.4 metres from the winner.

Kate Perry was no show of playing a part in the outcome of the race after 600 metres and that was due entirely to a miscalculation on Todd's behalf.

The stewards inquired of Todd re Kate Perry's performance but accepted his explanation that she was disappointing.

Surely he should have been charged with failing to give Kerry Perry every chance to win the race and their failure to even charge him has left a lot of industry insiders shaking their heads.

We must add that this is not and should not be construed as an attack on either Zac Butcher or Todd Mitchell.

They are both outstanding drivers but like all human beings they make mistakes occasionally.

Like everyone else in the wider community you have to be accountable for your actions.

What the stewards and the JCA have done on this occasion is badly let everybody else in the industry down.

It is a bad look for harness racing when industry participants are either not charged or fined a miniscule amount for serious misjudgments.

JC

Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print

Read More News About...

Stallion Name

Next article: