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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

The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board today considered charges issued by HRV Stewards against Mr George Schembri. The charges arose from an incident that occurred at the Cranbourne harness meeting on Tuesday 21 July 2015. After considering evidence from Mr Schembri and witness statements, Mr Schembri pleaded guilty to a charge under Australian Rule of Harness Racing (ARHR) 213(a) which reads: A person shall not:- (a) by use of harness, gear, equipment, device, substance or any other thing inflict suffering on a horse The particulars of the charge being that at the Cranbourne harness meeting on 21 July 2015, that in the stabling area after the completion of Race 6, Mr Schembri kicked the horse This Is Your Life in the abdomen or barrel region. Mr Schembri also pleaded guilty to a charge under ARHR 243 which reads: A person employed, engaged or participating in the harness racing industry shall not behave in a way which is prejudicial or detrimental to the industry. The particulars of the charge being that Mr Schembri’s conduct in kicking the horse This Is Your Life, was behavior and an action considered to be detrimental to the harness racing industry. After considering submissions regarding penalty from HRV Stewards and Mr Lance Justice, representative for Mr Schembri, the HRV RAD Board imposed a penalty in totality of a suspension of Mr Schembri’s trainers and drivers licence for a period of 3 months to commence midnight 15 August 2015 and a fine of $1000. In imposing this penalty, the HRV RAD Board considered Mr Schembris’ previous offence record in relation to conduct matters, the financial impact of the penalties imposed against Mr Schembri in view of his personal circumstances, as well as the need to protect the integrity of the harness racing industry, whilst ensuring a penalty for such actions provided a specific and general deterrent. HRV RAD Board Panel - Brian Collis QC, Paul Connolly

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