Day At The Track

What the hell were the JCA thinking ?

10:25 AM 27 Nov 2015 NZDT
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Just recently, we applauded the JCA for the manner in which they had handled the Kevin Morton 'race cafe' case and how they had enhanced their reputation in doing so.

Unfortunately within a few weeks they have had a shocker with the Zac Butcher case in the New Zealand Free For All during Cup Week.

The reasoning that the two JCA representatives Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles put forward for their decision in this case shows a complete lack of knowledge and understanding of harness racing.

The case revolves around Zac Butcher puncturing the tyre of Mossdale Conner when he went inside the markers before the passing lane in the $250,000 NZFFA.

Ricky May was furious post race, stating that Zac had tried to get inside Mossdale Conner before the passing lane was available and in doing so had punctured his trye, costing Mossdale Conner the win.

But Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles were firmly of the view that Mossdale Conner's winning chances weren't affected as the hearing transcript shows.

"Given the performance of ‘Mossdale Conner’ in the final 250m of the race, it is not clear that that horse demonstrably suffered as a result of the flat tyre."

"It cannot be said that the horse would have won the race but for the flat tyre."

"On the contrary, after the interference ‘Mossdale Conner’ appeared to continue on with a strong run and was only beaten within metres of the winning post by a fast finishing ‘Tiger Tara’. The margin was a nose."

So in the minds of Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles, Mossdale Conner drags a flat tyre for 275 metres and he didn't have his winning chances affected due to the flat tyre.

The reality is there is absolutely no doubt at all that the flat tyre cost Mossdale Conner the win.

That they think otherwise is to show a complete lack of knowledge and understanding on behalf of Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles of the industry they are meant to be policing.

But it gets worse when the two gentlemen come to the penalty for this offence.

The starting point for careless driving in a major race is suspension.

How long that suspension is should be determined by the circumstances of each case.

In this instance Mr Ydgren for the plaintiff suggested a starting point of 3-4 days.

Mr Lawson on behalf of Zac Butcher suggested three days or two days and a small fine so he could fulfill commitments he had in upcoming weeks.

But Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles ignored those guidelines and imposed an $800 fine instead.

So not only have Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles completely misread the impact the punctured tyre has had on the chances of Mossdale Conner, they have then gone outside their own guidelines when it comes to penalty. 

Their reasoning is as follows.

"However, the committee is of the view that to suspend Mr Z Butcher for this careless driving would be a disproportionate response to his actual culpability and taking into account the overall circumstances, Mr Butcher’s very good record and the practical difficulties in suspending him as outlined by Mr Lawson on his behalf the committee is of the view that he can be dealt with by way of fine."

Now contrary to what the two gentlemen say above, Zac has a bit of form when it comes to stepping outside of the rules in big races.

Last December Zac pushed The Orange Agent out with over 1000 metres to go in the $138,000 Sires Stakes Final at Alexandra Park which tookThe Orange Agent right out of the race which Zac went onto win with Democrat Party.

It cost the betting public a small fortune as The Orange Agent was a hot favourite that day.

For that offence Zac was fined the princely sum of $300 which caused an uproar at the time.

Now Zac has done it again and he has escaped very lightly once again.

There are consequences for drivers and trainers when they get things wrong on raceday.

What are the consequences for Mr Jackson and Mr Knowles, when in a case such as this one they got it so terribly wrong.

Harnesslink Media.

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