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John Dunn is hoping the return of two potential open class pacers will offset the loss of No Doctor Needed. No Doctor Needed, who ran ninth in the New Zealand Trotting Cup for Dunn's father Robert earlier this month, has been switched to the Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick barn in Papakura for his future racing. But providing they can stay sound, two replacements are waiting in the wings for the Dunn stable. Elios made a long awaited return at the North Canterbury workouts at Rangiora  Raceway on Wednesday in his first outing since failing badly in last season's Auckland Cup. A Group I winner in the 2014 Messenger when he beat the likes of Arden Rooney, Franco Nelson, Mossdale Conner and Besotted, Elios got so ill from a virus late last season there were no guarantees of him making it back to the races. Additional issues along the way have not helped his cause. Elios' first outing was more than satisfactory and the Dunns will be hopefully of a similar performance when Wesley Silcox makes his comeback from injury at Saturday's workouts at Pukekohe. A winner of 10 from 28 and more than $220,000 in stakes, Elios ran second to Bay Emerald by half a length in a 2:00.1 mile rate for the 2000m but made up late ground sharply from the back of the six horse field. In context, Bay Emerald has only won one from 36 but Dunn was happy to see the lightly raced 6-year-old get through the run safely. He said they would be looking after Elios in the short term and will let him guide them when he is ready to step back up. "I've said to the owners that we are not making any strong plans at this stage, we will just get through another couple of trials and see where we are at then." A winner of eight from 12, Wesley Silcox won his last three starts on the trot before pulling up lame with a tendon injury back in March. "He might not have been a horse that attracted a lot of hype but he always seemed to step up and get the job done," Dunn said. At this stage there are no plans for a race day return with Wesley Silcox. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with permission of Stuff NZ    -    Check site here

While Art Critic had little luck going into Fridays big race for the fillies and mares at Addington Raceway, there was a real confidence in the camp when she came up with the ace draw for the 1950m. She was able to leave the gate on terms with the field, but John Dunn made an early call to hand up the lead to second favourite Lovetodream. With 1400m to go, Dexter Dunn came with a searching run with Lightning Mach to take the lead, but there was no panic from John who realised with the hot pace the gaps would come. In what was a race defining move, he was able to push off the rail at the 850m, shunting breeze horse Tintinara wider and allowing Art Critic to apply pressure to the leader. As they turned for home she quickly surged to the front and under John's urgings, she went to the line strongly to win by a length in 2.20.7 for the 1950m, a mile rate of 1.56, home in 800m 56.5 and 400m 29.1. Owned by Studholme Bloodstock and the McDonald Racing Syndicate Limited, Art Critic has always looked a mare headed for better things. However, in her first three starts this campaign she was bereft of any real luck. That was until yesterday when having made her own luck she was able to head home a very good field, with New Years Jay rattling home from the back for second and Happy Heidi putting in one of her late runs for third. Yesterday's win was the 4th from 19 starts for the lighly raced Art Major mare. She appeals as a horse that will only get better with age and it will be no surprise to see her tackling the top mares races at some point. Robert Dunn Racing Stables   -   Check site here

Well known Queensland harness racing owner Greg Brodie has had a lot of top horses over the years and most of them have started their racing careers from the Bruce Negus stable. As is normal in such circumstances some turn out better than others but one who has promised much but failed to deliver more often than not is the Lis Mara gelding Music. Starting out with Bruce when he was based at Waikouaiti, Music showed a lot of promise at three but really struggled at four. When it looked like Music was going to carry on in the same vein at five Bruce recommended that the horse be transferred to the Robert Dunn  stable at Woodend to take advantage of the beach training. Bruce convinced John Dunn that Music was far from a spent force. "Bruce was confident that the horse had plenty more wins in him but since he had moved back to Burnham from the beach at Waikouaiti the horse had not performed as well as he had at three." " Since he has been here he has really thrived and I think he is a long way from being finished yet," John said. A winner at big odds first up for the stable at Methven, Music was sent out at odds of 11 to 1 at Addington Raceway tonight due to the presence of the hot favourite Cable Beach. Last of the seven horse field for most of the journey on a hot pace, Music swooped late down the outside for John Dunn to make it two wins from two starts from the Dunn barn. " The race was run to suit him down to the ground but he has still come from last so it was a good effort." " I don't think we will line him up during Cup week as that might be a bit rich for him but there are plenty of opportunities for a horse like him." " I don't think tonights win will be his last," John said. The way that Music has won his last two from the Robert Dunn barn at Woodend Beach, he looks to have a few more wins in him yet. Harnesslink Media

Tonight at the harness racing meeting at Addington Raceway, we will see the debut performance of the very smart three year old, Freedom Fighter. A son of Courage Under Fire, Freedom Fighter went through the 2014 New Zealand Premier Sale at Christchurch where he changed hands for $48,000 The vendor Brian West of Studholme Park had a lot of time for the colt and arranged to be part of the syndicate that was formed to race the horse by the purchaser Robert Dunn. Freedom Fighter had half a dozen starts at trials and workouts at two against some of the best two year olds around and was always competitive but was put aside to mature Now a three year old, Freedom Fighter has been burning up the trial tracks in Canterbury lately with his last effort at Rangiora especially noteworthy when he came home in 56 and 26.5 for an easy 6 1/2 length win. Tonight on his debut he will face some really nice horses such as Articulight, Imola and Linton Shard but he looks to have all the attributes to make a winning debut.  Driver John Dunn has a good opinion of Freedom Fighter. " He is a really nice horse and I think he will be hard to beat tonight." " His run at the last workouts was very good and I'm going in pretty confident," John said. Any good horse that is running sectionals like Freedom Fighter has at the trials recently always attracts the attention of the bloodstock agents and it is no different here. " There has been quite a bit of interest in him but he hasn't been sold at this stage." " The agents are keen to watch him run tonight and then make a decision," John said. With the aid of barrier one, Freedom Fighter looks very hard to beat here in what is shaping as his only start for the Dunn barn Harnesslink Media  

Every week, Harnesslink produces the harness racing ringaround where a group of twenty odd of our leading drivers give us their best tips for the weekend racing. Results in the main have been good with the odd shocker thrown in but last night at Addington Raceway the tipsters had a night to remember. The drivers selected horses in seven races last night at Addington and bagged five winners which is a great strike rate. In started in the first when Gavin Smith selected Paris Princess who led form go to whoa and returned a healthy dividend of $6:60 Blair Orange was the next tipster to see the winners circle with the very talented Southern GNP who was backed in very short but never gave his supporters any cause for concern with an effortless victory. Onto race 6 and Mark Jones was very bullish around the chances of Franco Harrington and the way he cruised to the front and ran away and hid in the home straight showed that his confidence was not misplaced. In race 8, North Canterbury trainer/driver Robbie Holmes had two horses involved in the race and he was very keen on the chances of Clean Break with Gavin Smith in the bike even from the outside of the gate, with Robbie taking the reins on the stablemate Tehoro Holly. The win dividend of $8:70 for Clean Break was a great return for the inform trotter. As happens, the best was saved for last. Three of our tipsters chose their best drives of the week in race 9 last night. Ricky May, John Dunn and Bob Butt were all keen on the chances of their runners and as it turned out none of them were far off the mark. John Dunn worked to the lead on Mr Meddle with Bob Butt settling in the trail with Justalittlebettor and Ricky May and Change The Rulz snookered away four back on the inner. John got away with a couple of cheap quarters in front with Mr Meddle which left enough in the tank to fight off all the challengers in the home straight. Ricky May and Change The Rulz flashed late for an unlucky second just in front of Justalittlebettor and Bob Butt who held third. Mr Meddle paid $10:90 for the win with the quinella paying $15:30 and the trifecta a healthy $185:20 Throw in the double result of Clean Break and Mr Meddle of $49:50 and followers of the ringaround should have made plenty last night. Harnesslink Media

Harness racing can be a frustrating business at times when a horse for a variety of reasons struggles to show their true worth. Commander Paris fits the bill perfectly with a terrible formline for a horse with above average ability but last night at Alexandra Park he gave a glimpse of why he is held in such high regard. Away well from the unruly mark, driver John Dunn quickly worked the son of CR Commando to the front and John kept up a steady tempo which meant no mid-race attackers. Given a bit more reign at the 800 metres, Commander Paris had them in trouble passing the 400 metres and comfortably had them covered in the home straight, holding a length advantage at the finishing line. Commander Paris trotted the 2200 metres from a stand in 2:54 even with closing sectionals of 59.4 and 29.4 Even though Commander Paris had a shocking formline, he was sent out 1/5 in the betting so someone got a bag full. John Dunn was full of praise for Commander Paris post race. " Bernie and Michelle changed a bit of gear on him after his first start up here and it made all the difference." " He has always had plenty of ability and showed that down south but he couldn't get around the bends left handed so Kevin Fairbairn convinced the owners to send him up north for the right handed way of racing." " He has still got a fair bit to learn as he is not very experienced but I think he will go a fair way before he is finished, " John said. Commander Paris showed last night that given his own rules in front, he is a very hard horse to run down. Harnesslink Media  

Wyndham harness racing trainer Brendon McLellan is no stranger to having a good horse in his barn and in Wick he has another one to carry his blue and red colours with distinction. Brought up to Canterbury for the South Of the Waitaki series at Addington during July, Wick has just got better and bettor and even though he was badly drawn at barrier eight over the 1950 metres tonight in the $23,500 C0 and faster Alabar Super Series Final, he was made a warm favourite. Away well but not super quick from out wide, driver John Dunn had Wick in the three wide line early before working to the front with 1200 metres to go with Lucky Luciano and Gavin Smith taking a trail and Western Art and Ricky May facing the breeze. Nearing the turn John Dunn upped the ante and shot clear and although Lucky Luciano took some ground off him late, Wick won with a lot in hand. John Dunn was full of praise for the son of Panspacificflight post race. "He did that really easily and could have won have won by a lot more but I let him coast the last 100 metres tonight." " Every start he just gets better and has become a much more rounded racehorse." " He has got real speed and a bit of bottom to him and I think there is a fair bit of improvement in him yet," John said. Brendon McLellan was all smiles in the birdcage. " The South of Waitaki series has made this horse and he has come a long way in a short time." "He was always a bit of a big dummy but he has come of age up here." " He can have a wee break now and should come back better again," Brendon said. The South of Waitaki series was a great concept from the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club over the winter and lets hope it becomes a permanent fixture on the racing calendar. Harnesslink Media  

Our harness racing tipsters are having a bit of the winter blues at the moment with less than inspiring results some weeks. Last week saw only two of our tipsters pick winners with Sean McCaffrey and Nathan Williamson doing the honours but we did have eight placegetters and some of those such as Shane Walkinshaw's pick, Takitimu Express paid good money ($4:20) This week we have four meetings in the country and we have picks for them all. Forbury - Thursday night Nathan Williamson - Thought Spinyback was overdue and could win race 2 Shane Walkinshaw - Thinks on his work this week, Jetsdream will win race 4 Craig Ferguson - Gives Mordecai a good chance of going back to back in race 6   Auckland  - Friday night Steven Reid - Reckons Concorde even from barrier 8 will be hard to beat in race 2 Scott Phelan - If Superimposed has any luck from his bad draw,he thinks he can win race 2  Todd Mitchell - Thinks the millionaire Vulcan can add to the bankroll in race 6 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Thought Vice Consul from the front line could win race 7 Tony Herlihy -  Gives The Almighty Johnson a big chance of winning race 8 John Dunn - Rates Return To Sender as hard to roll in race 9 Mark Jones - Thought Rocker Band would be very hard to beat, also in race 9   Addington - Friday night Bob Butt - Quite bullish about the chances of the two year old Matatoki in race 1 Terry Chmiel - Thinks Maddison Hill can upset them in race 2 Tim Williams - Gives Bird Of Paradise a big show even from the second line in race 6 Gerard O'Reilly - Reckons Zin Zan must win one shortly and thinks it will be in race 7 Ricky May - Thought the southern raider Tetrick would be hard to beat in race 8 Brendon McLellan - Agrees with Ricky that Tetrick will be hard to beat in race 8 Matthew Williamson - Reckons Springbank Eden can get the chocolates in race 9   Timaru - Sunday afternoon  Blair Orange - Thought the first starter My Cash would be hard to beat in race 3 Gavin Smith - Very bullish about the chances of Great Things Happen in race 4 Brad Williamson - Reckons Kylie Castleton can bounce back and win race 6 Jim Curtin - Gives Insignificant a chance to upset them at odds, also in race 6  John Curtin - Thought Naughty Maravu only needed some luck for a change to win race 8 Robbie Holmes - Thinks Contractual Issues will be hard to hold out in race 10   Harnesslink Media

Here at Harnesslink we are regularly amazed at some of the charges leveled against harness racing drivers and how there seems to be a disconnect between the reality of race driving and the perfect world that the Racing Integrity Unit and the JCA live in. A good example in our view is the recent appeal brought by Terry Chmiel against a JCA decision that he had driven carelessly. The transcript below had us here at Harnesslink just shaking our heads. Date of Hearing: 10 June 2015 Venue: Stewards’ Room, Addington Raceway, Christchurch Tribunal: R G McKenzie, Chairman - K G Hales, Panelist Present: Mr T S Chmiel (the Appellant) Mr S P Renault, Stipendiary Steward (representing the Respondent) Mr N M Ydgren (Registrar) Date of Decision: 22 June 2015 RESERVED DECISION OF APPEALS TRIBUNAL Background [1] Following the running of Race 10, Changeover Mobile Pace, at the meeting of Oamaru Harness Racing Club at Oamaru Racecourse on 17 May 2015, the Appellant was charged with careless driving in that, as the driver of PARRAMATTA in the race, he “drove carelessly with 400 metres to run when shifting inwards crowding ON THE TOWN (D J Dunn) with this horse locking wheels with HERETIC FRANCO (J R Dunn)”. [2] Mr Chmiel defended the charge and, following a quite lengthy hearing held after the last race on that day, Race 11, the Judicial Committee found the charge of careless driving to be proved. After hearing penalty submissions, the Judicial Committee imposed a fine of $450. [3] Mr Chmiel now appeals both the finding of the Judicial Committee that he drove carelessly and the penalty imposed. Mr Chmiel’s Notice of Appeal states that the grounds for his disagreeing with the finding and penalty are “inconclusive video evidence and also not guilty of the penalty”. Procedure [4] Rule 1205 (2) of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing provides: All appeals shall, except when and to the extent that the Appeals Tribunal otherwise directs, be by way of rehearing based on the evidence adduced at the hearing conducted by the persons or body whose decision is appealed against. [5] This Tribunal must carry out its own assessment of the facts, and it should not hesitate to substitute its own findings of fact where it is appropriate to do so. While this Tribunal must apply an independent judgment to the conclusions reached by the Judicial Committee, the onus is still on the Applicant to show that the Judicial Committee was wrong. [6] The standard of proof is the balance of probabilities (Rule 1008A). This is widely understood to mean that facts are required to be proved as being more probable than not. [7] At the outset of the appeal hearing, it was agreed by the parties, at the Tribunal’s suggestion, that the “raceday” procedure for the hearing of charges be adopted – that is to say, the Stewards (in this case the Respondent) present their case showing what they are alleging with the assistance of video replays, after which the Appellant is to present his case in support of his appeal. Submissions of the Respondent [8] Mr Renault began by showing side-on and head-on video replays of the relevant part of the race – approximately 400 metres from the finish as the field was leaving the back straight. He pointed out HERETIC FRANCO (J R Dunn) leading the field at that point, with ON THE TOWN (D J Dunn) outside the leader and Mr Chmiel, driving PARRAMATTA, improving 3-wide. [9] Mr Chmiel had been racing in second-to-last position before commencing to improve 3-wide with cover, and then 4-wide past the tiring CHIEF KAPAI. He got up alongside ON THE TOWN. HERETIC FRANCO and ON THE TOWN then locked wheels and drifted back through the field, Mr Renault said. [10] At the hearing before the Judicial Committee, Mr John Dunn said that his horse’s head was turned outwards but round the bend, he said, he was holding his line rather than running outwards and going wider. Mr Dunn had said that his horse had “run out quite bad down the back” but on the bend he was not having any difficulty with the horse and it was “settled”. Mr Renault submitted that Mr John Dunn’s horse had not contributed to the incident which followed. [11] Mr Dexter Dunn, driving ON THE TOWN, had been parked for some distance and he was having no difficulty with that horse. The following evidence was given by Mr Dexter Dunn at the raceday hearing: DD Yeah just on the video there obviously I was sitting parked and half way round the bend I’ve run out of room and because my wheel is behind John Dunn on the inside. I’ve ended up running out of room and locking wheels with John. Basically, just had no room. SR So was the pressure from the outside here Mr Dunn? DD Yeah it got pretty tight. Yeah at the time it felt like it was from the outside yeah. SR And did you call to Mr Chmiel? DD I just yelled out for a bit of room. Probably a bit before, yeah it just sort of happened really. It happened pretty quick, it just sort of, we were racing there and then all of a sudden it happened you know, right at full speed. When I was out there anyway it felt pretty quick. SR You weren’t having any difficulty with your horse? DD No she was SR Travelling fine DD Yeap SR So there was contact, wheel on wheel, before? DD Just um, yeah, just our stays, obviously we’re touching. SR And he was tight to you, he was hard on your wheel before there, have you got any option to come outwards, can you relieve the pressure, with him to your outside there? Are you able to come any wider if he’s putting pressure on you? DD Yeah, it sort of happened that quick I probably, by the time, I did I’d already locked wheels when it happened SR So did you feel there was any movement from the inside? DD I couldn’t tell at the time, didn’t even look at the horse on the inside, I didn’t even SR So out there live, you felt it was from the outside, when you were out there? DD Yeah probably because I was behind John Dunn, it was mainly me and Mr Chmiel that were um. Obviously you can feel the pressure when you are cart on cart but, maybe if I was up level with John as well I would have felt if there was pressure from the inside but I couldn’t really tell when I was out there. [12] Mr Renault referred again to the video replays. He submitted that Mr Dexter Dunn was clear of Mr John Dunn and there was a clear gap between them. Mr Chmiel then came across and levelled up to Mr Dunn. The locking of wheels had not yet taken place, he submitted. Mr Dunn then looked to his outside and had called to Mr Chmiel and then he locked wheels with Mr John Dunn. [13] The stays of the sulkies of Mr Dexter Dunn and Mr Chmiel had touched, Mr Renault submitted. He pointed out on the video replay that the outside sulky wheel of Mr Chmiel could be seen to be throwing up grit from the track. This was where the “touching” took place, Mr Renault submitted, and this was prior to Mr Dunn locking wheels with the sulky of the horse on his inner. Mr Renault accepted, in response to a question from the Committee, that grit from the track had also been thrown up by the wheel of Dexter Dunn’s sulky. [14] Mr Chmiel had shifted down from a 4-wide position and placed pressure on Dexter Dunn. The onus is on the driver shifting ground, Mr Chmiel in this case, Mr Renault said. Mr Dexter Dunn could be seen to be “wiggling” in the sulky, as he was about to lock wheels. Mr Dunn had nowhere to go to relieve the pressure – he could not come wider. No driver had been in difficulty until Mr Chmiel had come around, Mr Renault submitted. [15] Mr Renault referred to the transcript of the raceday hearing and pointed out that Mr Chmiel had declined the opportunity given to him by the Chairman to ask questions of either Mr Dexter Dunn or Mr John Dunn. He submitted that Mr Chmiel had accepted the evidence given by those witnesses. [16] This was a clear case of careless driving in that Mr Chmiel had placed obvious pressure on Dexter Dunn who, in turn, has been forced onto John Dunn, Mr Renault submitted. [17] Mr Renault submitted that Mr Chmiel had not been in a true 3-wide position but, rather, 2½ carts wide. He pointed out the position of the horse, CHIEF KAPAI, which was in a true 3-wide position, he submitted. [18] Mr Renault then showed the video replay of the race from the point of the alleged interference to the finish. He said that, once Mr Chmiel came around 3-wide and the two inside runners locked wheels, Mr Chmiel continued to the lead and put a break of 2-3 lengths on the field. With the two horses locking wheels, the majority of the field behind them had been inconvenienced. [19] Mr Renault submitted that a reasonable and prudent driver would not have put himself in the position that Mr Chmiel had. His drive fell well short of the standard of that expected of a driver. He had failed to take due care. Submissions of the Appellant [20] Mr Chmiel first addressed the submission by Mr Renault that CHIEF KAPAI had been in a true 3-wide position prior to the incident. He submitted that this was not the case as SECRETS’ OUT (R T May), on the inside of CHIEF KAPAI, had commenced an outwards movement to get on his, Mr Chmiel’s, back and had forced CHIEF KAPAI wider. [21] Mr Chmiel then referred to the head-on video replay of that part the race as the field raced down the back straight. He submitted that, as the field approached the bend out of the back straight, the sulky wheel of ON THE TOWN, which wore a boring pole on its near side, was already inside the sulky wheel of the inside runner, driven by John Dunn, long before any contact was made from his outside. Dexter Dunn had put himself in that situation, he submitted. The pressure came when Dexter Dunn had “panicked” and tried to come out. Mr Chmiel submitted that Dexter Dunn had called for room after he had locked wheels. He referred to the evidence of Mr John Dunn who had said that his horse “did run out quite bad down the back”. It was possible that it had also run out around the bend but the video was not helpful in resolving this. Only a small amount of movement was required to have contributed to the locking of wheels, Mr Chmiel submitted. His own horse’s head was “as straight as a die”, Mr Chmiel submitted, and the horse was in a true 3-wide position. He was unaware that Dexter Dunn was not in a true 2-wide position. [22] Mr Chmiel said that the raceday hearing had commenced some 30 minutes after the last race on the day. This had upset him because he had his horses loaded ready to travel home. He did not have the opportunity to carefully view the videos of the incident until he had got home and was able to study them. He has appealed the raceday finding as he believes that he had done nothing wrong. He had placed no downwards pressure on Dexter Dunn, he said. Further Submissions of the Respondent [23] Mr Renault refuted the submission of Mr Chmiel that Dexter Dunn was inside John Dunn’s wheel prior to being joined by Mr Chmiel. Mr Dunn had not referred to having any difficulty or that he was getting close to John Dunn. [24] The allegation of the Stewards is that Mr Chmiel had driven carelessly by crowding Dexter Dunn. There was clear contact between the stays of the sulkies of Dexter Dunn and Mr Chmiel – this was prior to the former “wiggling” in the sulky and the locking of wheels. Further Submissions of the Appellant [25] Dexter Dunn had plenty of time to get his wheel out before Mr Chmiel got to him. However, he had allowed his horse to run in and, in doing so, had put himself in that situation. He was not just “a little bit inside” John Dunn’s wheel, he was well inside, he submitted, at least 15 to 20 centimetres. Dexter Dunn had called late and Mr Chmiel had given him room and come out. He would have given more room had he realised that Dexter Dunn was inside the wheel of John Dunn’s sulky. [26] His horse wears a rein pricker on the inside and never runs in but runs out, Mr Chmiel said. His horse’s head had not been turned in at any relevant time, he submitted. 27] Tight racing is common and carts touch in every race and that is “just racing”, Mr Chmiel said. He did not believe that he had driven carelessly. He was not aware of any respect in which he had been careless as alleged. Comments on the Video of the Whole Race [28] At the request of the Tribunal, a video replay of the entire race, a mobile start event over 2000 metres, was shown to the hearing. It was shown that HERETIC FRANCO (J R Dunn) took the lead from the start, and the lead time was 26.3 seconds. At the winning post with a lap (1200 metres) to run, ON THE TOWN (D J Dunn) challenged for the lead and took a lead of approximately 1 length without being able to cross the leader, before HERETIC FRANCO was urged along to hold the lead. As the field entered the back straight, PARRAMATTA, driven by Mr Chmiel, was racing in 2nd to last position in the 11-horse field. It then improved quickly 3-wide and then 4-wide to go up alongside ON THE TOWN which was racing on the outside of HERETIC FRANCO. When those two runners locked wheels, there was some disruption to the field and PARRAMATTA established a break of several lengths over the field. It was run down in the straight and finished in 6th placing, 2.7 lengths from the winner. ON THE TOWN finished in 9th placing and HERETIC FRANCO finished in last placing. Appeal Against Penalty [29] Mr Chmiel confirmed that his appeal was also against the level of fine ($450) imposed by the raceday Judicial Committee. The reasons given by that Committee, either at the conclusion of the hearing or in its subsequent written decision, were read to Mr Chmiel. The Stewards had submitted for a fine of between $450 and $500. The Committee took a starting point of a fine of $500 as suggested in the Penalty Guide. The Committee identified that an aggravating factor was the disruption to the majority of the field, making the level of carelessness, in the Committee’s view, at the higher end of the scale. The Committee also referred to Mr Chmiel’s “clean record”. [30] Mr Chmiel submitted that a fine of $450 was excessive. Reasons for Decision [31] Mr Chmiel has appealed against the finding of the raceday Judicial Committee that he drove carelessly when shifting inwards crowding ON THE TOWN with that horse locking wheels with HERETIC FRANCO. [32] This Tribunal has had the benefit of being able to view the various video replays of the incident, and to consider the evidence and submissions without the pressure that is inevitably on a raceday Judicial Committee. [33] We think that it is relevant, in the case of this appeal, for this Tribunal to have regard to the fact, as we were told, that the hearing commenced some 30 minutes after the running of the last race. This means that the hearing of the charge would have commenced at approximately 5.00pm. This, no doubt, placed pressure on all participants including Mr Chmiel and the Judicial Committee. Mr Chmiel told us that he had his horses loaded on his truck awaiting transport home to Leeston. [34] The grounds of Mr Chmiel’s appeal, as set out in his Notice of Appeal, are “inconclusive video evidence and not guilty of penalty”. It was not helpful to the Respondent or, indeed, this Tribunal that the grounds were not spelt out in greater detail. The Tribunal is aware of the provision in Rule 1205 (3) where it states: Except by special leave of the Appeals Tribunal no appellant shall argue or be permitted to argue any ground of appeal not set out in the notice of appeal. [35] In the circumstances, the Tribunal was prepared to allow Mr Chmiel some latitude in this regard. His reference to the “inconclusive video evidence” we took as a reference to the fact that there was no true head-on video of the precise point of the race when the sulky wheels of the two Messrs Dunn locked. This is not a slight on the video coverage, as it is just not possible to have perfect video coverage of every point in a race. [36] Of course, a Judicial Committee and, if appropriate, an Appeals Tribunal has regard to not only the video evidence but also the evidence of the parties to the proceedings and their witnesses. In this case, we had available to us a full transcript of the raceday hearing. We were able to read what Mr Renault and Mr Chmiel had said in their evidence to the Committee and, also, what the drivers of the other two runners involved had to say. [37] The Tribunal is aware that issues of credibility of witnesses arise and concedes that the Judicial Committee had the advantage of seeing the witnesses. However, no deference is required beyond the customary caution appropriate when seeing the witnesses provides an advantage. [38] Having said that, the Tribunal did not find the video evidence entirely inconclusive but, rather, found it to be of considerable assistance. So, our finding has relied on both the video evidence and the evidence given by the parties and witnesses at the raceday hearing. [39] The Tribunal allowed Mr Chmiel to make points in his submissions before us that he did not make before the raceday Committee and did not specify in his Notice of Appeal. We allowed him to do so because we felt that Mr Chmiel was placed in a position, on the raceday, in which he was not able to properly consider the video evidence prior to the hearing and to mount a full and proper defence to the charge of careless driving against him. We do not say this by way of criticism of the raceday process, other than to say that it may well have been appropriate for Mr Chmiel to have been offered the option of having the hearing of the charge adjourned in the circumstances - see paragraph [33] above. It is not ideal, and may even be prejudicial to a Respondent, for the hearing of a charge to be proceeded with in such circumstances. [40] In his submissions before this Tribunal, Mr Chmiel relied quite heavily on a video replay that, he submitted, clearly showed the line of Mr Dexter Dunn’s inside sulky wheel inside the line of the sulky wheel of the horse on his inside, HERETIC FRANCO, driven by Mr John Dunn, prior to his placing the alleged pressure on Mr Dexter Dunn. This was not something raised by Mr Chmiel before the raceday Committee. We feel sure that this was because he had not had the opportunity to properly study the video replays at that time. [41] The Tribunal is of the view that there is more than a little merit in that submission. From our own observation of the video evidence available, it did appear to be the case that Dexter Dunn’s inside sulky wheel was tracking inside the sulky wheel of John Dunn prior to the locking of wheels. In fact, we note that Dexter Dunn told the Judicial Committee: “Yeah, it sort of happened that quick I probably, by the time I did I’d already locked wheels when it happened”. [42] We do not consider the parol evidence of Dexter and John Dunn, as set out in the transcript, to be overly convincing. The former, in response to being asked if there was any movement from the inside, said “I couldn’t tell at the time, didn’t even look at the horse on the inside at the time”. He went on to say that the pressure was “probably” from the outside. Then, asked if there was any pressure from the inside prior to locking wheels, Mr Dexter Dunn stated: “I actually couldn’t actually tell you at the time yeah”. [43] Mr John Dunn, when asked whether his horse had contributed by hanging out or running out slightly responded: “Yeah running out slightly”. Later, when asked whether he was running outwards or holding his line he replied: “Probably yeah probably more holding my line”. Earlier, he had said: “My horse has run out down the back straight, he’s run off a good cart and back. Also, it had its head round a fraction round the bend. So it sort of runs out the whole way but”. [44] This Tribunal also noted that the two witnesses for the Stewards, Messrs Dexter and John Dunn, were each present at the hearing while the other gave evidence. In that situation, there is a very real danger that the evidence given by one witness will be coloured by the evidence given by the other. This should be avoided wherever possible. [45] The Tribunal’s conclusion, from studying the transcript and carefully viewing the available video replays, is that what happened was, simply, a racing incident. It is clear that the three horses concerned were racing tightly and at speed as a result of which ON THE TOWN and HERETIC FRANCO locked wheels. Any inwards movement by Mr Chmiel was not great. Mr Chmiel did not deny that the sulky stays of his and Mr Dexter Dunn’s horse had touched which, he told us and we accept, was not an uncommon happening in a race situation. That they touched was illustrated by the fact that, as shown on the video, track grit was thrown up by the sulky wheels of both of those runners. We especially note that the word “touched” was used in the raceday hearing to describe the degree of contact between the two sulkies. It appeared to be no more than a touch. [46] Mr Renault told the Tribunal that the onus is on the driver shifting ground to leave sufficient room. It does not necessarily follow, however, that any incident as on this occasion must be the result of and the fault of that driver shifting ground. [47] The Tribunal believes that the locking of wheels of the two runners was most likely the result of a number of factors. It is undeniable that the three runners were racing tightly. The possibility that HERETIC FRANCO, which had been running out prior to the incident, had contributed by hanging out on the bend cannot be dismissed. Even more cogent is the fact, which we find, that Mr Dexter Dunn’s inside wheel was tracking a path inside the wheel of HERETIC FRANCO, prior to being joined by Mr Chmiel. Mr Chmiel could not have been aware of this at the time and his submission was that he had heard a call for room from Mr Dunn as Mr Dunn was about to lock wheels, to which he immediately responded by giving room, but only after their stays had briefly contacted, or “touched”. Mr Chmiel correctly pointed out that his horse had its head straight at all material times. [48] The Rules of Harness Racing do not require a horseman to achieve standards of perfection. A horseman must drive to the standard of a reasonable, competent and prudent driver. This Tribunal is not satisfied that Mr Chmiel’s driving fell below that standard on this occasion. [49] The Tribunal finds that the locking of wheels of HERETIC FRANCO and ON THE TOWN was what is commonly referred to as a “racing incident”, which is an occurrence in a race which is not attributable to the actions of any one horse or driver but which occurs, usually, as a result of a combination of factors and as a result of the speed and very competitive nature of a harness race, and was not the result of Mr Chmiel driving carelessly. It was, we believe, the result of a combination of factors with each of the three horses involved contributing to a greater or lesser extent. We are not satisfied, to the required standard of the balance of probabilities, that Mr Chmiel drove in a manner that was careless. Decision [50] The appeal is upheld. The decision of the raceday Judicial Committee at the meeting of Oamaru Harness Racing Club on 17 May 2015 is therefore set aside and the penalty imposed of a fine of $450 is quashed. Costs [51] No order is made as to costs. The fee paid to the Judicial Control Authority on the filing of the appeal shall be forfeited to that body. R G McKenzie        K G Hales Chair                     Panelist

Last week was one of the better weeks overall for a while with our tipsters not far off all weekend. Six selected winners with Kyle Marshall leading the way with the $6 shot, JC Jock while Scott Phelan, Blair Orange, Tim Williams, Nathan Williamson and Ricky May also got the job done. What was so frustrating was the tipsters had eleven placegetters including ten second placings over the weekend. This week however we only have three meetings around the country and quite a few of our regulars are not in action this weekend but as usual it would pay to follow the tipsters selections on the first day at Blenheim on Friday to the second day on Sunday. Forbury Park - Thursday night Shane Walkinshaw - Thought Jetsdream just needed an ounce of luck to win race 2 Brendon McLellan - Thinks Mr Handleman is a chance at huge odds, also in race 2 Craig Ferguson - Rates Lamborne Road a big chance to bounce back and win race 5 Nathan Williamson - Thinks Betta Go Fernco can turn it around and win, also in race 5 Brad Williamson - Hopes to celebrate his 21st birthday with a win on Elusive Flight in race 7 Gavin Smith - Gives the two year old Late Mail a big chance of winning race 9 Matthew Williamson - Rates Springbank Eden a chance of upsetting them in race 11   Blenhiem - Friday afternoon Bob Butt - Quite keen on the chances of the first starter Dusky Eyre in race 1 Ricky May - Rates Delightful Jack as well overdue and thinks he will win race 2 John Dunn - Very bullish about the chances of stable runner Mr Meddle in race 6 Blair Orange - Gives Expresso Martini a big push to win race 7 Terry Chmiel - Thinks Art Exhibit is ready to strike and will win race 8     Franklin - Friday night Scott Phelan - Thinks Ideal Roman is a big chance from barrier two in race 1 Todd MacFarlane - Rates I Am The One a good each way prospect in race 4 John Curtin - Thought Bettormack second up from a break would win, also in race 4 Todd Mitchell - Reckons The Tracker can carry on his winning streak in race 5 Steven Reid - Gives Franco Nikau a chance of rolling them at big odds, also in race 5 Steven Richardson (TAB) - Rates Chosen Path fresh up a big chance of winning race 6 Kyle Marshall - Thought Kilkeel Lady from barrier two could upset them in race 10   Harnesslink Media

Tonight's harness racing meeting at Addington was winter racing, Canterbury style. In other words, rain and a strong cold southerly were present most of the evening which had its effect on a lot of runners. One who seemed to relish the conditions was the three year old son of Love You in Great Things Happen who won like a really nice horse after doing plenty of work. Settling back from his second line draw for trainer/driver Gavin Smith, Great Things Happen was five back in the running line when hot favourite Harriet Of Mot galloped with a lap to go when challenging for the lead. Once back trotting John Dunn sent Harriet Of Mot forward again and reached the lead with 700 metres to go. Gavin followed the daughter of Monarchy forward and sat on her wheel from the 700 metres mark. These two knuckled down to it from the 400 metres mark and half way up the straight Great Things Happen grabbed the lead and ran away for a comfortable 2 1/4 lengths victory from a very game Harriet of Mot with Everybody Knows finishing on well late for third. Great Things Happen trotted the 1950 metres in the cold slushy conditions in 2:30.2, a mile rate of 2:03.9 with closing sectionals of 60.3 and 29. Gavin Smith knew he had just got a bit lucky with Harriot Of Mot breaking. " If she hadn't broken I don't think we would have beaten her. " In saying that Great Things Happen is a very nice horse in his own right and has a big future," Gavin said.  Passed in at the 2013 New Zealand Premier yearling sale for $27,500, Great Things Happen is a son of Love You from the former smart imported daughter of S J's Photo in Calamity Gal who won seven races and $92,255 in New Zealand. Offered a half share to train him by his vendor Ted Edwards after he failed to make his reserve, Gavin accepted immediately but not for the reason you would expect. " My daughter Hayley was born the morning of the sales and when I got offered a share in a horse called Great Things Happen the same day, I just had to take it." " I didn't like him when I broke him in and was starting to have some doubts." " However the next time in he was a different horse and hasn't looked back since." " He is very immature and after tonight he is going out for a big spell. " Once he strengthens up and matures I think he will go right to the top level. " He has really high speed and I have a big opinion of him," Gavin said. As progeny of Love You get better with age, Great Things Happen would look to have a big future in front of him. Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing can be cruel at times as John Dunn well knows. The stable star two year old Code Black has been short on luck the whole season and having to start in the Sires Stakes consolation tonight at Addington (May 15th) instead of the big dance later in the night just about summed up the son of Bettors Delight's season. Code Black was a top third in the Young Guns final in early March but needed a break after that series which meant he only got one shot at a sires stakes heat in which he was very unlucky not to finish a lot closer than sixth. So even though he is more than capable of holding his own against the very best going around, tonight Code Black started in the $17,000 Sires Stakes consolation. Drawing barrier eight tonight meant John took Code Black off the gate and he settled last in the running line. Approaching the 1400 metres mark John sent Code Black forward and he worked to the death seat outside the leader Ice Crusher with 1000 metres to go. John applied some more pressure as they turned for home and Code Black burst clear before having to withstand a late challenge from the hot favourite Cash N Flow and Mark Purdon but he still had half a length to spare when the winning post came up. Sparkling Delight and Gerard O'Reilly battled on well for third. Code Black paced the 1950 metres in 2:25.6 with closing sectionals of 59.1 and 27.9 which was good going in the slushy conditions. John Dunn was happy the horse had showed everyone what he was capable of. " He went huge in the Sales race last week running on from well back on a 26.6 quarter. " If we had had some luck in our Sires Stakes heat he would have been in the final and not the consolation." "I am really glad for the owners who buy one every year at the sales so they deserve a good result like this." John is resigned to losing Code Black as he is under offer and will be vetted tomorrow. " The money is good but not as much as you would think but it is so hard to win those big age group races so the sale makes sense," John said. Code Black was one of the few two year olds around this season who was capable of mixing with the All Stars runners so his sale won't help age group racing in Canterbury. Harnesslink Media    

Our harness racing tipsters had another so so week although to be fair they did have a lot of close second placings over the four meetings. There were five winners selected with Clark Barron continuing his hot run at the moment along with Bob Butt, Tony Herlihy, Shane Walkinshaw and Tim Williams and they also had seven placings as well, a lot of them at good odds. This week we have five meetings but none in the deep south which has affected our number of tipsters a bit. Forbury - Thursday night Nathan Williamson - Thought Chantrey back to his favourite track could upset them in race 3 Brendon McLellan - Gives new stable runner Continental Boy a good chance of winning race 5 Shane Walkinshaw - Likes the chances of smart 3 year old Robyn's Bad Boy winning race 6 Matthew Williamson - Rates Hezabluechipboy a big winning chance in race 8  Steve Richardson - Thought The Edge Of Reason could upset them at good odds in race 9   Auckland - Friday night  Maurice McKendry - Really quite keen on the chances of the out of form Sir Richie in race 1 Todd MacFarlane - Gives the 2 year old Cyclone Chief a good chance of winning race 2 Sean McCaffrey - Thinks Yagunnakissmeornot can bounce back to winning form in race 4 Todd Mitchell - Rates Charming Lavra a big chance of winning again, also in race 4 Steven Reid - Confident that Shedontloveme will go one better this week and win 6 John Dunn - Thought Barry was due a change of luck and could win race 8   Addington - Friday night Terry Chmiel - Reckons Saint Michel with the help of the mobile will win race 2 Bob Butt - With two runs under his belt, thought Any Old Way was ready to win, also in race 2  Brad Williamson - Looks like a trifecta as Brad thinks The Silver Fox will win race 2 Tim Williams - Rates the debutante Cash N Flow as very hard to beat in race 5 Jim Curtin - Thought One Over Da Moon on his Rowe Cup run would win race 6 Gerard O'Reilly - Thinks King Of Strathfield has been going great and could win, also in race 6 Scott Phelan - Rates Bettor B Amazed a big winning chance even from barrier 9 in race 7 Blair Orange - Gives Bracken Ridge a big show of turning his form around and winning race 9   Thames - Sunday afternoon Tony Herlihy - Very bullish about the chances of Mighty Regal in race 4   Ashburton - Sunday afternoon Ricky May - Rates the first starter Cable Beach very highly and thinks he will win race 4 John Curtin - Thought Gracious Star and Michelle Neilson would make it two in a row and win race 6   Harnesslink Media

Last week was a mixed bag but two very wet tracks at both Ascot Park and Methven didn't help with the conditions hampering a lot of runners. We managed five winners with the best dividend going to Bob Butt at Methven with Ancient Moonlight while others to select winners were John Dunn, Tim Williams, Nathan Williamson and Scott Phelan and we also had five placings as well. This week there are only the four meetings and we cover them all. Manawatu - Thursday night Kyle Marshall - Gives Soul Hanover a great each way chance in race 2 Todd Mitchell - Thinks on his runs to date they can't beat Alta Leroy in race 8    Auckland - Friday night Tony Herlihy - Thought Uandmebabe would be hard to beat from her good draw in race 7 Scott Phelan - Very bullish about the chances of Bettor B Amazed, also in race 7 Maurice McKendry - Gives the two year old Shandale a big chance of winning race 8 Steven Reid - Rates Aquickone on her work this week as the one to beat in race 9   Addington - Friday night Terry Chmiel - Thought Danny Del Vito from barrier one could upset them in race 1 John Dunn - Gives Culinary Delight a big push to return to the winners list, also in race 1 Bob Butt - Looking for the trifecta in race one where Bob thinks Gracious Me will be hard to beat Robbie Holmes - Thought Aile Rouge could get a piece of it at good odds in race 2 Brad Williamson - Very bullish about the chances of the very smart Father Christmas, also in race 2 John Curtin (Harnesslink) Reckons Waikiki Beach will beat Chase The Dream and win race 4 Blair Orange - Thinks Habibti Ivy will match it with the boys in the Derby and win race 5 Gerard O'Reilly - Thought Tiger Tara would be improved this week and a each way chance in race 6 Matthew Williamson - Knows Alley Way is up against it this week but a great place chance in race 7 Tim Williams - Keeps giving out Have Faith In Me and he keeps winning, this week in race 8 Ricky May - Rapt with the run of Dalton Bromac last week and won't have him beaten in race 9   Invercargill - Sunday afternoon Brendon McLellan - Reckons Leigh Major must be due a change of luck and can win race1 Steve Richardson(TAB) - Really likes the chances of Denn Nee Nose Best in race 3 Clark Barron - Gave Real Raider a big chance to clear maidens in race 4 Nathan Williamson - Thought Franco Tyson would be a great each way chance at good odds in race 8   Harnesslink Media

With the top two harness racing mares in the country in Adore Me and Helena Jet having been retired recently, the title of New Zealand's best mare was up for grabs tonight at Addington in the $100,000 New Zealand Breeders Stakes. Venus Serena was the public elect from barrier three and she showed last night that at her best, there is no better mare in the country at present.. Driver John Dunn let the daughter of Mach Three work her way to the front after 250 metres and from there she controlled the tempo of the race. With a mile to go John started to up the tempo with Venus Serena and it was obvious a long way from home that most were struggling with the speed up front. The well supported New Years Jay worked around to the death at the 1000 metres mark and the race just hotted up even more. Down the back straight John turned the wick up again with a 27.9 quarter and most were struggling to make ground as they turned for home. The way the race had been run was set up for a swooper and Willow who had been last at the 600 metres flew home along the inner but Venus Serena was still a length to the good at the line. Pemberton Shard went her usual honest race running into third ahead of Here We Go Again who ran on well late for fourth. In the very windy conditions, Venus Serena paced the 2600 metres in 3:12, a mile rate of 1:58.8 with the last mile in a very quick 1:55.7 and closing sectionals of 57.3 and 29.4  John Dunn was happy to see Venus Serena back to something like her best. " That was such a gutsy run tonight and she felt more like her old self." " There is a really strong wind out there tonight and she ran into it twice so it was a top effort." " I eased off the speed early which I probably shouldn't have but once I let her roll she had them in trouble," John said. Trainer Geoff Dunn was a contented man post race. " She deserved that tonight as she hasn't really gone a bad race all season." "Bad draws have cost her a few times this season and that was the first time she had had a decent barrier." "Once she found the front, I knew she would be hard to beat." Geoff has deliberately given Venus Serena a lighter season. " Right through her two and three year old seasons, every race was a track or New Zealand record and that has to take a toll." "So we decided to give her an easier time at four in the hope that if we look after her now, we will be rewarded down the line," Geoff said. The only target left for the mare this season now is the Harness Jewels and last nights win has given her the bankroll to assure her a start in the May 30th feature. Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing can be cruel at times with injury stopping a lot of horses fulfilling their potential. One horse that would fit that description to a tee is Boom Gate. The five year old son of Courage Under Fire was a super impressive winner on debut when he took out the Sapling Stakes as a two year old but it has been far from plain sailing ever since. Soundness issues have restricted his appearances to the point that tonight he was just having start number seventeen. Now with Robert Dunn on the beach, Boom Gate has impressed his new trainers and they were confident of a forward showing tonight at Addington. Away well from barrier nine for driver John Dunn, Boom Gate worked to the front after 400 metres and kept up a solid tempo in front. John Dunn let him run from the 800 metres and as they turned for home the only challenger was Nevertheless who had had the trail the whole way. Boom Gate sprinted away at the 200 metres mark and went to the line an easy winner by 1 3/4 lengths over Nevertheless with Livura running into third. Boom Gate cut out the 2600 metres in 3:14.2, a mile rate of 2:00.1 with closing sectionals of 57.7 and 28.4. Driver John Dunn was full of praise for Boom Gate post race. " He did that fairly easily to be honest." "He has always been a smart horse but injury has blighted his career,"  John said. It hasn't all been plain sailing since he joined the Dunn camp either. " The first time we worked him up he went sore on us so we had to stop. " We gave him a couple of months out and started again and it has all gone smoothly this time."  " We will just take him day by day at the moment but that won't be his last win if he stays sound," John said. The Dunn barn deserves all the kudos they get for getting Boom Gate back to the track and hopefully he can fulfill his early promise. Harnesslink Media

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