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Harness racing driver Simon Lawson has had his appeal to cancel a two and a half year ban dismissed in a recent JCA hearing. Lawson copped a two and a half year ban from the JCA back in March of 2019 for betting on another horse in a race he was driving in.  Lawson did not intend to seek a licence to drive or train “at this stage” but wished the application to be granted to allow him “the ability to support his partner who is a llicensed jockey at the racetrack and her place of work.” Full details of the appeal hearing below:  BEFORE AN APPEALS TRIBUNAL OF THE JUDICIAL CONTROL AUTHORITY INFORMATION NUMBERS: A 8707 and A 8708 IN THE MATTER of the Racing Act 2003 AND IN THE MATTER of an application under Rule 1205 of the NZ Harness Rules of Racing BETWEEN SIMON LAWSON (Applicant) AND THE RACING INTEGRITY UNIT (Opposing – Respondent) Appeals Tribunal Hon J W Gendall QC (Chair) L N McCutcheon (Member) Hearing on the papers (by consent of the parties) at Levin on 27 May 2020 1. This was an application made on 10 May 2020 seeking cancellation of an order made by an Appeals Tribunal on 10 May 2019 for disqualification for a period of 2 years 6 months commencing on 11 May 2019 against Mr Lawson. His period of disqualification ends on 11 November 2021. 2. The background to the offending of Mr Lawson is fully set out in the decision of the Appeals Tribunal and does not need repeating here. We simply record that it involved two charges of Serious Racing misconduct in placing bets (successful as it happened) on two horses in Harness races in which Mr Lawson drove other horses who were unplaced. The Tribunal said that the offending struck at the heart of the integrity of the Code, and damaged its reputation with the community, being seriously dishonest. RULE 1205 3. The Rule relevantly provides: (1) A person who has been disqualified for more than 12 months or who owns a horse that has been disqualified for more than 3 months may apply in writing to the Appeals Tribunal for a cancellation of the remainder of the disqualification. (2) An application under sub rule (1) shall not be considered by the Appeals Tribunal until the expiration of: (a) 5 years from the date the disqualification was imposed where the person was disqualified for Life. (b) 12 months from the date the disqualification was imposed where the person was disqualified for more than 12 months. (c) [not relevant]. 4. The written submissions by Mr Lawson’s lay representative advanced on his behalf can be distilled to the following: (a) He has faithfully complied with the order for disqualification and adhered to the conditions attaching to disqualification and promptly paid the significant costs ordered against him. (b) The Rule provides a similar mechanism to that of the Criminal Justice System in that a person sentenced by a court will usually be entitled to parole after serving a certain period of that sentence so “is released”. (c) He has accepted his sanction and “learnt“ that the offending behaviour was unacceptable. His behaviour has been exemplary, and the Tribunal should have sufficient confidence that he will not reoffend. (d) He has not had an easy transition following the cessation of his training involvement but has found good employment in the thoroughbred breeding industry, has purchased a property with his partner, but has mortgage commitments. His partner is a licensed jockey and he is unable to support her in the sense of watching her ride in races and trackwork. (e) His disqualification penalty is disproportionate to a penalty of suspension imposed on another harness racing driver for an improper driving offence. (f) He does not intend to seek a licence to drive or train “at this stage” but wishes the application to be granted to allow him “the ability to support his partner at the racetrack and her place of work.” 5. The submissions advanced on behalf of the RIU opposing the application are summarised as follows: (a) He has served less than one half of the term of disqualification imposed and there are no significant changes of or existing circumstances that mandate cancellation. Otherwise the fundamental purpose of the penalty for serious offending would be undermined. (b) The penalty decision took into account the deliberate and dishonest actions, and the aggravating and personal mitigating factors relevant to Mr Lawson, was alive to the impact on him and his career, and allowed a 15 month discount for personal factors and his plea. (c) The decision highlights the view that where a professional forfeits the privilege of being licensed, it is inevitable that he and others will suffer effects but that is of little significance when viewed against the public interest. No evidence is presented as to how serving the remainder of a proper disqualification will seriously affect Mr Lawson. (d) Comparison with the Criminal Parole system is inappropriate. Even if parole does occur, the sentence remains extant until the time period ends and recall to prison can, and does, occur if breaches of conditions occur before the actual sentence ends. As the Tribunal said in its decision, “the imposition of sanctions does not necessarily equate to that of the criminal sentencing process”. (e) Generally, to cancel the significant balance of the sanction would severely undermine the penalty regime and public and industry confidence, if an applicant such as Mr Lawson could have a penalty reduced by 50% or more where no change or special circumstances exist. Any cancellation would also undermine the deterrent effect on other licence holders in the harness racing industry, and the need to uphold proper standards of conduct, being the key purpose of the penalty regime. 6. The representative of Mr Lawson was given the opportunity of making submission in reply to those of the RIU which we have considered and taken into account. These emphasise that Mr Lawson has changed his profession, is not seeking to obtain licences in the industry, has taken steps to rehabilitate himself. He submits that, if minded to do so, the Tribunal might cancel the disqualification for a later specific date with conditions imposed. The reply contends that another later case involving a harness racing driver/trainer imposing only a suspension (Mr Lawson says a “Claytons” penalty) illustrates how this disqualification is disproportionate. DECISION 7. We have given careful consideration to all the submissions of the parties set out above and, in evaluating all the circumstances, have determined that the application be declined. Our reasons follow. 8. Whilst the Rule provides the jurisdiction to make an application after 12 months, for the cancellation of the balance of a disqualification, it is solely a discretionary matter for the Tribunal, as no criteria are provided. It is the task of the Tribunal in evaluating all the material facts and circumstances and reaching a considered decision. The exercise of that discretion, of course, cannot be arbitrary or capricious, but a proper evaluation and consideration of all the relevant circumstances is required. These will vary widely, depending on the particular individual, the offending, the length of the disqualification and period of time remaining to be served, the interests of the profession/code/community, the purpose of the sanction and any matters of compassion – and there may be infinite other factors relevant to the exercise of a discretion such as this - there can be no limitation in advance of matters to be taken into account. It will always depend on the particular or unique circumstances that exist at the time of the application. An evaluation of all relevant matters is necessary. This we have done. 9. The analogy with the parole system sought to be advanced by the applicant is not apt. As the RIU says, a prison sentence is not cancelled if a person is granted parole. It continues to run until the sentence end date. A prisoner must be released from a “short term sentence” (a term of 2 years or under) after serving 50% of that term, and a prisoner sentenced to a longer term may be considered for parole after 1/3 of the sentence (unless the sentencing court fixes a longer non eligibility period) but only if he/she is deemed to not be an undue risk to the community and they are subject to conditions which if not met results in recall to prison, usually to serve the balance of the sentence. The regime for permitting cancellation of the balance of a professional disciplinary disqualification (whether cancellation of the right to practise law, medicine, accountancy, or participate in the Harness Racing Industry) is entirely different to the prison regime which relates, amongst other things, to removal of a person’s liberty. 10. Whilst the consequences of the penalty imposed have been, and will be, painful, in some respects Mr Lawson’s circumstances may have taken a turn for the better, in the sense that he has a good position at a thoroughbred stud, and he has a sound relationship with a partner and acquired a home. These are to his credit and continuation of the disqualification would not apparently impact upon those matters. As he argues he cannot watch her ride in races, (although no doubt could do so on TV) but this is an inevitable consequence of his offending and sanction. If he were hereafter to return to racecourses, and be seen there by licence holders and others after serving less than 50% of his sanction, those observers would be entitled to look askance and query the purpose of the racing judiciary function in imposing a deservedly stern penalty yet cancelling it after such a period. The argument of the RIU that this would tend to undermine the sanction regime is well founded. The remaining length of time to serve of the disqualification is a significant consideration. 11. The fact that Mr Lawson has paid the costs awarded against him and served his disqualification so far is a matter that carries lesser weight on the evaluation process for consideration, as he would have been expected to comply. We accept it does illustrate a proper approach, for without an applicant having done so, no application under the Rule could properly be made. 12. We do not accept the submission that a sanction imposed on another licence holder at a judicial hearing can have any relevance to this application for cancellation. It was for a different breach of a different rule, with a different (and very much lesser) penalty provision of suspension, and it did not involve any proven or admitted charge of a serious racing offence, (with the RIU accepting the penalty imposed). The Tribunal is well aware of the accepted facts and plea of the licence holder. Mr Lawson’s submissions and efforts to seek to draw some advantage by making comparisons are without avail. And, in any event, that “disproportionate” submission by Mr Lawson has no bearing on an application for cancellation under Rule 1205, which cannot be used in a roundabout way to appeal the penalty imposed. 13. The essence of Mr Lawson’s wish to have his term of disqualification now cancelled appears to be his natural desire to support his partner as she rides. But in evaluating this, and all the other past and present circumstances of Mr Lawson, we are not persuaded that the discretion to cancel the balance, namely 18 months, of the 2 years 6-month disqualification should be exercised. We do not see that the provisions in Rule 1205 enable the Tribunal to adopt the process, suggested in Mr Lawson’s reply, of fixing a later date for cancelling the disqualification, with conditions. The Rule is quite clear. 14. Accordingly, the application is dismissed. There is no order as to costs. Hon J W Gendall QC Chair 29 May 2020

On 28 May 2020, the Victorian Racing Tribunal (VRT) considered a charge issued by Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards against licensed trainer-driver David Aiken under Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 190(1). AHRR 190(1) reads as follows:      A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. The charge related to a urine sample collected from the horse ‘Divine Diva’ after it won Race 8, the ‘Alabar Pace’, at the Shepparton harness racing meeting on 1 November 2019. Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) reported the sample contained arsenic in excess of the allowable threshold. Mr Aiken pleaded guilty to the charge before submissions on penalty were heard from the HRV Stewards and Mr Aiken. Penalty Mr Aiken was fined $2000, with $1500 of that fine suspended for a period of 12 months. The VRT also ordered that, under AHRR 195, ‘Divine Diva’ be disqualified from Race 8 at Shepparton on 1 November 2019 and that the placings be amended accordingly. Further to that, the VRT ordered that under AHRR 200(1) any prizemoney won by ‘Divine Diva’ from the race be returned. VRT Panel: Judge John Bowman (Chairman) and Mr Robert Abrahams The written decisions of the VRT can be found here. (Please note that VRT Decisions will generally be published within 7-10 days of the date of hearing)

The Australian Anti-Doping Authority has taken an interest in the family of Bronson Xerri and its colourful history as it investigates criminal links around the supply of anabolic steroids following the Cronulla teenager’s positive drugs test. Xerri, 19, has been provisionally stood down and is facing a suspension of up to four years after returning a positive A-sample to the banned substances exogenous testosterone, androsterone, etiocholanolone and 5b-androstane-3a,17b-diol when target tested following a tip-off last November. While the doping violation is yet to be confirmed with a B sample, the attention of ASADA investigators is now very much on trying to establish whether there are criminal links to the distribution of the substances found in Xerri’s system. It was a year-long Australian Crime Commission investigation into sports, prohibited substances and organised crime that preceded the Cronulla and Essendon doping scandals in the last decade. According to a source with knowledge of ASADA's Xerri probe, there is a particular interest in the player's family. The Herald can reveal the Sharks youngster’s 28-year-old brother Troy was sentenced to an aggregate term of five years imprisonment in 2014 over drugs charges. Troy was initially one of eight men, including two teenagers, who were charged over drugs supply in south-west Sydney eight years ago. An array of illegal substances from prescription drugs including steroids, valium and xanax, ammunition and a bayonet knife were seized during raids on premises in Merrylands, Greystanes, Ermington and Granville. Police also found more than $50,000 in cash. It resulted in Troy Xerri facing Parramatta Local Court on charges of supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug and take part in supply of a prohibited drug. His jail term included a non-parole period of two years and six months. ASADA investigators seized Bronson Xerri’s phone briefly this week to download data from it. A call to the Xerri home on Friday went unanswered. Xerri has previously spoken of the importance of his family, which has connections to the harness racing industry, during his rapid rugby league rise. His other older brother Dylan presented him with his maiden first-grade jersey before his NRL debut last year. To read the full article in The Sydney Morning Herald click on this link.

RWWA Stewards have today concluded an inquiry into an allegation that prior to Race 3 at Gloucester Park on 24 January 2020, Trainer/Driver Mr Clinton Hall made an improper statement/s to Trainer/Driver Mr C. Saligari, who had a runner engaged in the race, with regard to the tactics and handling of that runner. As a result of the Covid-19 restrictions, the inquiry was conducted via teleconference. At a hearing conducted on 21 April 2020, Mr C. Hall had pleaded guilty to the following two charges under Harness racing Rule 238 and 187 (2), which state; 238. Failure to comply with orders A person shall not fail to comply with any order, direction or requirement of the Controlling Body or the stewards relating to harness racing or to the harness racing industry. The particulars of the charge being that on 31 January 2020, Mr Clinton Hall, being a registered person with RWWA, failed to comply with the direction of Steward, Mr Borovica, the RWWA General Manager of Racing Integrity, by not surrendering his mobile telephone, as directed in writing in a letter from Mr Borovica dated 28 January 2020. And; 187.2 Offences – inquiries A person shall not refuse to answer questions or to produce a horse, document, substance or piece of equipment, or give false or misleading evidence or information at an inquiry or investigation. The particulars of the charge being that during the course of an inquiry conducted on 4 March 2020, Mr Clinton Hall, being a registered person with RWWA, refused to answer questions in relation to the subject matter of the inquiry. At the same hearing, Mr C. Hall had pleaded not guilty to a charge under harness Racing Rule 227; 227. Offering money or other inducements A person shall not give or offer any money or other inducement improperly to anyone employed, engaged or participating in the harness racing industry. The particulars of the charge being that on 23 January 2020, Mr Clinton Hall, being a registered person with RWWA, during a telephone call, did improperly offer licensed trainer Mr Craig Saligari $2000.00 as an inducement to hand up the lead on CROCODILE KID engaged in Race 3 at Gloucester Park on 24 January 2020. After hearing submissions in respect to a defence to the above charge from Mr C. Hall, Stewards adjourned and after deliberation concluded that he had breached Rule 227. The inquiry resumed on 12 May 2020 in order to hear submissions on the question of penalty to all three charges where further evidence was advanced by Mr C. Hall. RWWA Stewards have now completed their deliberations and the following penalties have been imposed: Charge 1 – Harness racing Rule 238 – Failure to comply – penalty – 2 years disqualification. Charge 2 – Harness racing Rule 187 (2) – Failing to answer questions – penalty – 1 year disqualification. Charge 3 – Harness racing Rule 224 – Inducement – penalty – 5 years disqualification. Having regard to the principle of totality and whether or not the periods of disqualification imposed should be partially or wholly concurrent in accordance with Rule 257, Stewards determined that all 3 penalties of disqualification, in the circumstances, should be served cumulatively. In addition, Stewards have also directed that the total disqualification of 8 years will be backdated to when Mr C. Hall was first stood down on 31 January 2020. Therefore the total of 8 years disqualification will expire at midnight on 30 January 2028. In considering penalty, Stewards were mindful of the following: The seriousness of each individual offence. The circumstances surrounding the commission of all offences. Mr Hall’s guilty pleas to two charges. The strong need for both specific and general deterrence to deter similar conduct. The potential damage to the Harness Industry of WA due to Mr Hall’s deliberate actions. Mr Hall’s personal circumstances at the time. Previous similar penalties issued Australia wide. In relation to the same inquiry and as previously advised that once Mr C. Hall’s inquiry was concluded, Trainer/Driver Mr C. Saligari would be required to appear before the Stewards in order to continue with his involvement. A notice in connection with this matter will be issued in the near future.   RWWA

Just over two weeks after trans-Tasman equine flights resumed following a COVID-19-enforced shutdown, exports from New Zealand to Australia have been suspended indefinitely yet again, this time due to a possible case of equine piroplasmosis. On May 20, New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries informed exporters that shipments to Australia had been suspended with immediate effect. A flight Tuesday night was prevented from leaving the country, and another shipment, scheduled for Friday night, is also expected to be held over as the department negotiates alternative arrangements with their Australian counterparts, the Department of Agriculture. Friday's flight, though, was still scheduled to depart as of Wednesday night; a number of owners with horses set for that shipment had not been informed about any potential delay. Equine piroplasmosis has never been identified in New Zealand before, but MPI director for animal health and welfare Chris Rodwell confirmed that a mare tested positive to equine piroplasmosis in a pre-export blood test. The mare had arrived in New Zealand last year from a European Union country that is known to harbor the tick-borne disease. Further testing is expected to confirm that the horse is infected with Theileria equi, one of two known parasites to transmit equine piroplasmosis. Rodwell told ANZ Bloodstock News: "Further blood tests have been taken from the mare, and we expect confirmation of whether the horse is negative or positive for the disease by the end of this week. "Theileria equi is a blood disease that causes anemia and is spread from animal to animal by ticks. The horse in question was imported to New Zealand from the EU early last year for breeding. No signs of disease in the animal have been reported in its time here." While the disease cannot be passed from horse to horse without the ticks known to transmit the parasite—with those tick species not found in New Zealand—most veterinary agreements with other countries require that equine piroplasmosis has not been present in the exporting country for a certain period of time. For Australia, the requirement is three years—meaning that, under the current certification process, trans-Tasman exports would be banned until 2023. While other arrangements are likely to be determined as a matter of urgency, it is a blow to the beleaguered New Zealand industry at a time when it is already under tremendous pressure. Even a temporary ban has the potential to upset spring preparations and breeding plans for New Zealand-based mares in Australia. On Wednesday night, MPI was moving to reassure horse owners that they were working as fast as possible with an aim to find a quick solution. "MPI is aware this situation may cause some concern to those in the equine sector, and work is underway to resolve things as quickly as possible to ensure ongoing horse exports are not interrupted," Rodwell said. "Some countries, including Australia, that import horses from New Zealand require certification that New Zealand is free of Theileria equi. This current suspect test result has meant that MPI cannot currently provide that assurance of country-freedom status. The ministry's market access specialists are working with Australian authorities to explore alternative assurance options to allow exports to continue." Biosecurity New Zealand has already started an investigation to confirm that it is an isolated case of equine piroplasmosis, but questions remain as to how a case could not only have occurred in New Zealand but how it could have gone undetected for so long. "The horse met MPI's importing requirements in that it had received a negative test for Theileria equi within 30 days of shipment," Rodwell said. "Before shipment, horses are quarantined and treated to remove any ticks that may be present. They are also further inspected and quarantined on arrival." According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, either of the two parasites that carry equine piroplasmosis—Babesia caballi and Theileria equi—can be found on most continents, including much of Europe. The Theileria equi parasite has also been reported in Australia in the past; the most recent case was an outbreak in the Southern Highlands region of New South Wales in 1976, but it did not take hold, and Australia is now considered to be free of equine piroplasmosis. The official zoosanitary certificate, which must be certified prior to export to Australia, states that New Zealand must have been free of 16 diseases for a three-year period prior to export; equine piroplasmosis is on that list, along with the likes of African horse sickness, equine influenza, and glanders. MPI's Dr. Emma Passmore stated in an email to exporters: "The export certificate for horses traveling to Australia, either for transit or permanent import, requires MPI to certify that no clinical, epidemiological, or other evidence of equine piroplasmosis has occurred in New Zealand within the three-year period immediately prior to export. This can no longer be certified, and exports to or via Australia are suspended with immediate effect." While Australia is the biggest market to be affected and also has notoriously strict quarantine laws, exports to other countries will also be potentially compromised. Macau requires the exporting country to have been free of equine piroplasmosis for two years, and Singapore asks for extra tests and treatments to be completed if the country has not been free from equine piroplasmosis for 12 months. The United States also requires that the country has been free of equine piroplasmosis for 12 months. Japan has no time frame but also requires a piroplasmosis-free environment. However, Hong Kong's requirements are less stringent, simply requiring a horse not to have completed its pre-export quarantine on premises where equine piroplasmosis has occurred in the 60 days prior to export. Exporters on Wednesday night were digesting the ban and the potential implications that may follow if it is prolonged beyond the next couple of weeks. Most suggested that the immediate suspension of exports to Australia was an unfortunate but required step. "This is very disappointing news, but the suspension is totally necessary at this time," Equine International Airfreight managing director Cameron Croucher said. "Just as flights were starting to operate across the Tasman after the COVID-19 shutdowns, outcomes of this nature will be very disappointing to owners and trainers who now face a further delay in relocating their bloodstock. "I'm sure that both government departments in New Zealand and Australia will work very hard to find a quick solution to resume services once confirmatory testing is completed. Also, a proper investigation is needed into how this has been allowed to occur, which could have a massive impact on the New Zealand Thoroughbred industry if the suspension is prolonged, especially leading into the Southern Hemisphere breeding season." In the past week, a number of New Zealand horses have been confirmed as relocating to Australia, and Cambridge Stud last week announced that a number of its fillies would join the Te Akau assault on the Melbourne spring. In addition, almost 200 mares crossed the Tasman from New Zealand for breeding purposes in 2019, with a similar number expected this year. By Andrew Hawkins/ANZ Bloodstock News Reprinted with permission of Bloodhorse

To prepare for the return to harness racing, the AGCO is actively reviewing Ontario's horse racing rules and regulations to ensure responsible measures are taken to help contain the spread of COVID-19. Our Racing Officials have also worked with a number of industry stakeholders including racetrack management, horsepersons' associations, veterinarians, and wagering bodies to seek input and address concerns related to the start of racing. As a result of these discussions, and pursuant to s. 2 of the Horse Racing Licence Act, 2015 and the Rules of Racing, the Registrar will temporarily amend a number of rules in order to accommodate the return to racing and ease industry burden, while also ensuring welfare for equine and human athletes and other racing participants. The AGCO will closely monitor the impacts of these temporary changes to determine how long these measures will be in effect and to ensure they are meeting their desired outcomes. The AGCO will be flexible in the event that any of the measures identified requires further amendment in order to uphold the health and safety of horse racing participants and racehorses. In addition, the AGCO will continue to work to release additional changes that pertain to racing activities in the coming weeks.  

On 23 December 2019, licensed trainer-driver Ellen Tormey and licensed trainer-driver Glenn Douglas both applied to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a review of the findings and penalties imposed on each of them by the Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals & Disciplinary (RAD) Board on 19 December 2019. The details of the HRV RAD Board matter in respect of both Ms Tormey and Mr Douglas can be viewed here, while the further HRV RAD Board Media Release regarding Ms Tormey can be found here. On 19 May 2020, VCAT handed down a decision in relation to the applications of Ms Tormey and Mr Douglas.  VCAT Senior Member Dea found that VCAT has no jurisdiction in the proceeding and that it was appropriate that the application be dismissed under section 75(1)(a) of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998 (Vic). Senior Member Dea also found that it was appropriate for the stay orders made on 23 December 2019 to be set aside. The full decision of 19 May 2020 can be viewed here. On 20 May 2020, Ms Tormey and Mr Douglas both applied to VCAT to have the operation of the tribunal’s orders of 19 May 2020 stayed pursuant to section 149(1) of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998 (Vic). Subsequently, VCAT Senior Member Dea ordered that the tribunal's orders of 19 May 2020 be stayed until the determination of the appeal or further order of the Tribunal or the Court on condition that the applicants file and serve any appeal by 4pm on 17 June 2020.

Harness Racing South Australia Stewards, on Wednesday 6th of May 2020, concluded an inquiry into comments made by Mr Todd Weidenbach on social media platform Face Book. Stewards found Mr Weidenbach guilty of a breach of Australian Harness Racing Rule 248 which states: “A person shall not say, publish or write or cause to be said, published or written anything malicious, intimidatory or otherwise improper about the Controlling Body, its members and employees or the Stewards or anyone else associated with the harness racingindustry.” The particulars being that comments, relating to the controlling body, made by Mr Weidenbach, on the social media platform Face Book were improper. After considering submissions provided by Mr Weidenbach and after having regard to the following relevant factors: • A copy of the comments on Face Book. • Mr Weidenbach’s admission of the breach. • The need for general and specific deterrence. • Mr Weidenbach’s personal circumstances Stewards believed the appropriate sanction was a $400.00 fine, $200.00 suspended for 12 months, provided there are no further offences under this rule during that period. The Stewards firmly remind all participants of the need to be mindful of any content or comments they elect to put on any social media platform. The Stewards will not tolerate unacceptable commentary directed at the Controlling Body, its members, employees, the Stewards or any one associated with the Harness Racing Industry. Failure to adhere to these expectations will result in significant penalties being imposed. For further information please contact: SIMON EWEN | CHAIRMAN OF STEWARDS (08) 8285 0700 •

WASHINGTON, PA, May 15, 2020 -- After 11 days of silence, PA Gov. Tom Wolf responded to the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission (PHRC) on when it could resume harness racing in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately for horsemen, his response was not what we wanted to hear: "As part of this reopening effort, we foresee horse racing reopening when counties enter the green phase, like other entertainment (casinos, theaters, etc). I commend the Commission's efforts to implement mitigation efforts for those who are continuing to care for the horses at this time, and forethought in planning for how to address public health and safety as it relates to each phase of reopening." To read Gov. Wolf's full letter to the PHRC, visit The Meadows Stadardbred Owners Association (MSOA) has responded to Gov. Wolf with the open letter below: Dear Gov. Wolf: In your letter to PHRC, you lump racing with other large venues, such as casinos and theaters. The reality is that horse racing occurs outdoors and can easily follow CDC guidelines; because our trainer/drivers and caretakers must exercise, feed and care for their horses every day, we're already on the backside, and we're already following CDC safety guidelines. And those guidelines are working. We've had no COVID-19 positives -- not a single one -- in our paddock and backside areas. Moreover, unlike other sports, horse racing can be conducted without spectators. Fans can watch the races and wager from a variety of platforms, including phone and computer. Since racing at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino was shut down on March 16, horsemen and horsewomen have been without income. Yet because horses continue to need food, bedding, exercise and veterinary care, expenses have continued. While other small businesses can cut costs and furlough staff, racing stables cannot do the same. Costs for upkeep of a single Standardbred can reach $2,500 per month -- and there has been no income to offset this. Many of us have applied for unemployment compensation and government loans; some have yet to hear back or receive any funding to help us through this unprecedented time. Consider the plight of D&G Stables, operated by Dean and Glenda Collins at the Meadows. Of the nine horses in its stable, D&G owns seven outright, meaning there are no outside owners to help them meet their significant monthly bills. Right now, this situation is altogether typical. Norm Parker, who trains 30 horses at the Meadows, puts it this way: "If we have a reopening date we could shoot for. our horses will be ready to race and start making money again. We are hoping to reach the 'green' phase and start earning a living again. We'll be able to pay our vendors. pay for hay and feed, and it will make everyone feel a little bit better." Currently, 90 percent of the people needed to resume live racing at The Meadows are already reporting to the backside and working every day. Trainer/drivers are here. Caretakers are here. Track and facilities maintanence staff are here. Security personnel are here. Resumption of racing would require about 20 additional people -- and these would be at scattered sites. State veterinarians and other PHRC personnel would be on the backside, but state judges would be at their office in the main casino building. The TV production crew would be in that bulding or outdoors while pari-mutuel clerks -- to handle phone wagers -- would work in a completely separate facility. Thus, the population on the backside, where stringent CDC measures already are in place, would be increased by only a few people. In light of all this, the MSOA respectfully requests that you reconsider your timeline and authorize immediate resumption of live racing, without spectators, at The Meadows. Indeed, our neighboring state of Ohio has done just that, announcing that live racing in Ohio can resume on May 22. Similarly, Indiana and Ontario have announced that live racing at their tracks will resume in June. If you authorize the reopening of racing at The Meadows now, you will immeasurably aid our horsemen and horsewomen, provide a much-needed form of entertainment for Pennsylvanians and, since the Commonwealth receives a commission on every wager, restore a key revenue stream to the state. And you'll accomplish this without adversely affecting public health and safety. Respectfully, Richard G. Gillock, President Meadows Standardbred Owners Association The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) is a nonproft oganization that represents the interests of approximately 700 Standardbred trainers, drivers, caretakers and owners at The Meadows. In addition to providing horses to race at The Meadows, MSOA administers such member-centric services as health insurance and retirement programs for horsemen and horsewomen. By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards have concluded an inquiry into the conduct of drivers Haydon Gray (Just Oscar) and Derrick Krafft (Singing The Girl) following the running of Race 4 at the Bendigo meeting on 30 April 2020. This matter was initially adjourned after taking evidence from Mr Gray, Mr Krafft, Gary Donaldson (Angski) and HRV Starter Mr Jason Fino.  As a result of the evidence adduced during the initial inquiry submissions were sought from Mr Gray as to whether the provisions of Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 183(b) should be invoked. After consideration of these submissions from Mr Gray, Stewards ordered that in accordance with AHRR 183(b) he not be permitted to drive in races and trials until the completion of this inquiry. During the adjournment evidence was also taken from officiating Clerk of the Course Mr Jesse Andersen.  At the resumption of the inquiry further evidence was taken from Mr Gray and Mr Krafft. Submissions were also heard from Mr Gray’s representative Mr Rob O’Connell. After considering all the evidence Mr Gray was issued with 2 charges, and Mr Krafft 1 charge, under the AHRR.   Haydon Gray - Charges Issued Charge 1 Charge 1 was issued under the provisions of AHRR 231 (2) which states: 231. (2)  A person shall not misconduct himself in any way.  The particulars of the charge were: That upon pulling up at the completion of Race 4 at the Bendigo meeting on 30 April 2020, when the driver of Just Oscar, Mr Gray misconducted himself by engaging in a verbal altercation with Derrick Krafft, driver of Singing The Girl. Mr Gray pleaded guilty to the charge as issued. Charge 2 Charge 2 was issued under the provisions of AHRR 156(6) which states: 156. (6)  A whip shall not be used so as to obstruct, strike or endanger another driver or horse. The particulars of the charge were: That upon pulling up at the completion of Race 4 at the Bendigo meeting on 30 April 2020, when the driver of Just Oscar, whilst engaged in a verbal altercation with Derrick Krafft, driver of Singing The Girl, Mr Gray used his whip in a backhand motion to strike Mr Krafft. Mr Gray pleaded guilty to the charge as issued. Derrick Krafft - Charge Issued Mr Krafft was issued with a charge under AHRR 231(2) which states: 231. (2)  A person shall not misconduct himself in any way.  The particulars of the charge were: That upon pulling up at the completion of Race 4 at the Bendigo meeting on 30 April 2020, when the driver of Singing The Girl, Mr Krafft misconducted himself by engaging in a verbal altercation with Haydon Gray, driver of Just Oscar. Mr Krafft was found guilty of the charge.   Penalties Imposed Submissions on penalty were heard from Mr Gray and Mr Krafft. Submissions were also advanced on behalf of Mr Gray by his representative Mr O’Connell.   Haydon Gray In assessing penalty Stewards took into account: Mr Gray’s forthright evidence, immediate admissions and guilty plea entered; Mr Gray’s industry offence record; Mr Gray’s current health and financial circumstances which were supported by documentary evidence; The circumstances of the offence under AHHR 231(2) where Mr Gray was the instigator of the verbal altercation; The circumstances of the offence under AHRR 156(6) notably the low force and the backhand manner in which the whip was used which resulted in no injury being sustained; Deterrence factors in that any penalty imposed must demonstrate that such conduct will not be tolerated. Accordingly, Stewards imposed the following penalties: Charge 1 – AHRR 231(2) $1,000 fine with half of the penalty suspended for a period of 2 years providing no further offences under the conduct related rules during that period. This penalty was inclusive of a previously suspended $250 fine. Charge 2 – AHRR 156(6) 12 month suspension of Mr Gray’s licence to drive in races. Mr Gray was advised that the final 3 months of this penalty may be suspended should he provide evidence of continued attendance before professional counselling services to the satisfaction of the Stewards.   The commencement of this suspension was backdated to begin at midnight on 30 April 2020, the date on which Mr Gray was first stood down. Derrick Krafft Submissions on penalty were heard from Mr Krafft. In assessing penalty Stewards took into account: Mr Krafft’s forthright evidence; Mr Krafft’s industry offence record which displayed no prior offences over a very length period; The circumstances of the incident whereby Mr Krafft was retaliating to comments directed to him; Deterrence factors and that any penalty imposed must demonstrate that such conduct will not be condoned. Stewards accordingly imposed a fine of $500 with half of the penalty suspended for a period of 2 years providing Mr Krafft does not breach the conduct related rules during that period.   Harness Racing Victoria

Columbus, OH — According to a story in the Paulick Report, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has appointed Alan J. Leavitt, Dr. Naveed Chowhan, Jonathan Rabinowitz and James Edwin “Ed” Worley to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Charles Francis O’Connor has been reappointed. Beshear designated Rabinowitz the commission’s new chairman, replacing Francis S. Kling Jr., who remains a member of the regulatory agency. Leavitt is a Standardbred owner and breeder, a former USTA director and member of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame who previously served on the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Leavitt replaces Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day, whose term expired. To read the full story from the Paulick Report, click here. from the USTA Communications Department

New Zealand's top harness racing driver Blair Orange has been fined $1000 for misconduct after repeatedly telling RIU staff to “f... off” when lawfully investigating a racing matter. Details below: NON RACEDAY INQUIRY RIU V B N ORANGE - DECISION DATED 30 APRIL 2020 - CHAIR, J H LOVELL-SMITH Created on 01 May 2020   BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE JUDICIAL CONTROL AUTHORITY UNDER THE RACING ACT 2003 AND IN THE MATTER of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing BETWEEN RACING INTEGRITY UNIT (RIU) Informant AND BLAIR NATHAN ORANGE Licensed Open Horseman Respondent Information No: A7197 Judicial Committee: JH Lovell-Smith, Chair Mr T Utikere, Member Informant: Mr S Irving Respondent: Mr BN Orange DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE DATED 30 APRIL 2020 1. Mr Blair Orange is a Licensed Open Driver under the New Zealand Harness Racing Rules and is charged that “on the 14th March 2020 at Christchurch being a Licensed Open Driver did misconduct himself by repeatedly telling RIU staff to “f... off” when lawfully investigating a racing matter, in breach of the New Zealand Harness Racing Rule 303(2) and subject to the penalties pursuant to Rule 1003(1)”. Rule 303(2) provides: No person or body who holds a permit or licence under these Rules and no owner, trainer, breeder, stablehand, unlicensed apprentice or racing manager shall misconduct himself or fail to comply with any request, direction, or instruction of any Stipendiary Steward, Racecourse Inspector or Starter. The penalty provisions in Rule 1003(1) are: A person who commits a breach of any Rule shall be liable to the following penalties: (a) a fine not exceeding $10,000.00; and/or (b) suspension from holding or obtaining a licence for a period not exceeding 12 months; and/or (c) disqualification for a period not exceeding 12 months 2. Mr Orange admitted the charge and does not dispute the Summary of Facts as follows: 1. The respondent Blair Nathan Orange is a licenced Public Trainer under the Rules of New Zealand Harness Racing (HRNZ). He is 41 years old and first held a HRNZ licence in 1995. 2. At 2.54pm on Saturday 14 March 2020 Racing Integrity Unit Racecourse Investigator Kylie Williams and Steward Scott Wallis attended the property of Licensed Public Trainer, Nigel McGrath. 3. The purpose of their visit was to serve McGrath with a document and request items related to a Harness Racing matter the previous day. 4. The matter under investigation had no relevance to Mr Orange whatsoever. 5. McGrath was present in the stable’s courtyard with Mr Orange and former licensed person Jamie Keast, drinking alcohol. 6. Mr Wallis said “hello” to the group and in reply Mr Orange said, “What the f... do you want?” 7. Mr Wallis replied, “We are here to see Nigel”. 8. Mr Orange continued to look at Mr Wallis and said, “you should just f... off” and then looked at Mr McGrath and said, “tell them to f... off”. 9. Mrs Williams and Mr Wallis engaged in conversation with Mr McGrath. 10. Mr Wallis had his cell phone in his hand and Mr Orange said, “Put your f...... phone away Scott”. 11. The conversation between Mr McGrath and RIU staff continued for a short time and at 3.02pm the staff went to leave the property. 12. As they walked past Mr Orange on their way out Mr Wallis said, “Goodbye Blair”. 13. Mr Orange replied, “just f... off”. 14. Mr Wallis kept walking and said, “I don’t know why you are like this with me, I have done nothing wrong to you”. 15. Mr Orange replied, “well you haven’t f...... tried to help us”. 16. The pair continued walking towards their car with Mr Orange continuing to tell them to “f... off”. 17. Mr Orange has no previous breaches of the Misconduct Rule. 3. We have received written submissions on penalty from Mr Irving on behalf of the RIU and from Mr Orange. It is agreed that this matter may be dealt with on the papers. 4. RIU Submissions as to Penalty: The RIU submits that the appropriate penalty is a fine only and does not seek disqualification or suspension of Mr Orange’s licence. The starting point of $1,500 is appropriate for this level of prolonged misconduct in respect of the serious offence of using offensive language to an officer and such cases are "fact dependent". There appears to be no similar fact case in the three Codes where there has been such a sustained level of abuse towards officials acting in accordance with their duties and powers. Mr Irving referred to three HRNZ Non Raceday Inquiry charges of Misconduct in which fines were imposed ranging from $650 to $850: • S DICKSON (11.02.2017) – Licensed Trainer/Open Horseman, abusive language to Stewards and failing to remain in the Stewards room. $850 fine. • A PYERS (12.03.2013) – Licensed Trainer/Open Horseman, offensive and abusive text messages and phone calls to Racecourse Inspector. $850 fine. • S LETHABY (12.10.2010) – Open Horseman swearing in the Stewards room and failed to remain when ordered to do so. $650 fine (guideline starting point $500). Mr Irving submitted that the following aggravating features should be taken into account in fixing the level of the fine: i. Mr Orange has been involved in the racing industry for many years and should know the importance of conducting himself in a professional manner and maintaining integrity in racing. ii. Mr Orange is the leading driver in the country and has one of the highest profiles in the sport, giving him the added responsibility of being a role model for the industry. iii. RIU staff were lawfully attending the property to speak to Nigel McGrath on a racing matter which had nothing to do with Mr Orange. iv. It was obvious that Mr Orange’s behaviour negatively influenced Mr McGrath’s decision making from an initial level of cooperation to a level that resulted in Mr McGrath being charged by the RIU with ‘failing to follow lawful directive’. v. It was also apparent by his actions that Mr Orange was under the influence of alcohol with RIU staff observing him and an associate drinking beer. vi. Mr Orange’s behaviour was not a ‘one-off’ outburst, as was the case in RIU v D, but prolonged and repeated abuse over a 10-minute period toward two RIU employees. With regard to mitigating factors, Mr Irving acknowledged that Mr Orange admitted the breach at the first opportunity and has had no previous misconduct charges before the JCA. In conclusion the aggravating and mitigating factors cancelled each other out and therefore a fine of $1,500 is appropriate. No costs are sought by the RIU. 5. Respondent’s Submissions as to Penalty: Mr Orange acknowledges his offending and expresses his regret that he let his emotions get the better of him that day and that he crossed the line between a personal and a professional relationship that day. He has apologised in writing to Mr Wallis and Mrs Williams. He accepts he should pay a fine and that a fine of $500 "is sufficient and just" for the following reasons: Mr Orange expresses his "confusion" as to the relevance of the number of races and stake money he has won this season when no such reference was made by the RIU in the cases of S Dickson and P Pyers or in their statements. He queries whether the level of the fine should be determined by the level of his income. Further due to Covid-19, his main source of income, driving, has ceased and at the time of making his submissions he had no income for 4 weeks and the earliest expected return to racing 29 May/1 June with one regional meeting per week. Mr Orange refers to the cases of S Dickson and P Pyers, as examples of cases where the abuse of officials were for lengthier periods than in this case. Mr Dickson's abusive language began in the Stewards room and he continued the abuse when he left the room and refused to return. In Mr Pyers’ case, the abusive telephone calls and texts continued for 2 days. The Summary of Facts in this case records that Mrs Williams and Mr Wallis arrived at Mr McGrath's property at 2.54 pm and left at 3.02pm. Mr Orange submits that the fact he was under the influence of alcohol is irrelevant and there is no evidence that his behaviour influenced Mr McGrath. His abusive behaviour was not directed at Mrs Williams and that if his abuse was regarded as prolonged and repeated then Mr Wallis contributed to this by addressing him as he was leaving when the situation had become volatile and the matter involving Mr McGrath had nothing to do with him in any way. Mr Orange acknowledged that he had been in racing for many years and knows the importance of conducting himself in a professional manner and maintaining integrity in racing which is why he has never before had a charge of this nature. It was an error of judgement which he has admitted was wrong and apologised for. 6. Conclusion The principal aggravating feature of this offending was that it occurred in the context of the attendance by Mrs Williams, a Racing Investigator and Mr Wallis, a Steward, at the property of a Licensed Public Trainer, Mr Nigel McGrath for the purpose of serving Mr McGrath with a document and to request items relating to an investigation into a Harness Racing matter the previous day. The matter under investigation had no relevance whatsoever to Mr Orange. Mr Orange knew that both Mrs Williams and Mr Wallis were at the property in their official capacity and that the purpose of their visit was to speak to Mr McGrath. Despite being told that by Mr Wallis, Mr Orange persisted with his abuse which was directed at both of them, to the extent of telling Mr McGrath that he should tell them to “f... off”. Mr Orange may not have thought he was directing his abuse at Mrs Williams, but she was attending the property with Mr Wallis in their official capacity not only to serve Mr McGrath with a document but to request certain items relating to a Harness Racing investigation. The volatile situation was brought about by Mr Orange’s abusive and disruptive conduct and we do not accept that Mr Wallis aggravated the situation in any way. We accept Mr Orange’s submission that on this occasion his emotions got the better of him and he crossed the line between a personal and a professional relationship. In mitigation, Mr Orange admitted the charge, at the earliest opportunity, although the evidence was clearly overwhelming. He has apologised in writing to Mrs Williams and Mr Wallis. He has not appeared before the JCA before on a charge of this nature in his long and successful career. We accept his income would have been adversely affected by Covid-19 in recent weeks. Since the charge was laid, Mr Orange has fully cooperated throughout 7. Decision Having regard to the submissions of Mr Irving and Mr Orange we adopt a starting point of $1400. We agree with the RIU that suspension of Mr Orange's licence or disqualification is not appropriate in this case. Taking into account the mitigating factors we have referred to above, we impose a fine of $1,000. The RIU does not seek costs. Given Mr Orange's cooperation in these very difficult and extraordinary times, which enabled this matter to be determined promptly and by agreement on the papers, there is no order for JCA costs. JH Lovell-Smith Chair 30 April 2020

Columbus, OH — The 2020 version of the U.S. Trotting Association’s rule book is now available on the USTA harness racing website by clicking here and will be available via the USTA Rule Book App found on Apple iTunes and Google Play stores by searching “USTrotting” in the coming weeks. Following are highlights of the new rules in the updated 2020 Rule Book: • An extended pari-mutuel meet is now defined as a meeting with no agricultural fair in progress with an annual total of six days or more with pari-mutuel wagering. • Gene doping is defined and prohibited. • Extensive language regarding racetrack maintenance has been added. • A renewing trainer whose license has been expired for more than three years will be required to submit supplemental information prior to licensing approval. • Drivers will be required to register driving colors prior to being upgraded from a qualifying/fair to a provisional license. • The rule regarding the registration of Non-Standard horses has been modified. • To ensure the fitness of riders participating in Racing Under Saddle races, each rider must qualify or go an official workout at least once each calendar year prior to the start of any Racing Under Saddle race. Likewise, a horse must qualify or go an official workout each calendar year prior to racing. The entire list of adopted rule changes, which became effective on May 1, 2020 may be found here. by Michele Kopiec, USTA Racetrack Operations & Licensing Manager

Washington, D.C. –  On Wednesday (April 22), President Trump announced that the Administration would suspend entry of certain “immigrants” into the country for a period of 60 days, citing economic conditions arising from COVID-19.  Fortunately for members of the horse industry who may continue to rely on guest workers under the H-2B and H-2A programs, the restriction will not add to delays for guest workers at this time. While the executive action is relatively narrow in scope by focusing on candidates for a “green card,” or prospective new, permanent residents, the Administration has left the door open for possible expansion of the ban to other classes of workers.  The order provides that “within 30 days, … the Secretary of Labor and Secretary of Homeland Security … shall review non-immigrant programs (emphasis added) and … recommend … other measures appropriate to stimulate the U.S. economy.” The Administration’s decision to focus on foreign labor and contemplate further restrictions adds uncertainty to the guest worker visas programs.  As you recall, Congress authorized a substantial increase in the cap on H-2B guest worker visa-holders within the context of Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 spending legislation.  In early March, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would release 35,000 supplemental H-2B visas pursuant to the spending law.  On April 2, however, DHS announced on its Twitter feed that the agency continues to review the H-2B rule, thereby delaying possible release of the supplemental visas. To view a copy of the presidential order, click on this link  

Yonkers, NY — To all owners and trainers: The procedure as far as the SOA of NY has learned is that commencing April 29 and continuing on April 30 and May 1, the trainers currently in possession of any and all horses requiring hair follicle testing must call this number (845.794.5061) after 9 a.m. on the dates indicated above if they intend to bring horses to Monticello Raceway to have hair samples drawn. Most likely the following week is when you will get an appointment, perhaps on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Out of state people may have to contact Dr. Scott Palmer as indicated on the Directive, which may be read at this link. We do not have information for the contact person or number at the other two tracks (Buffalo or Saratoga), but assume that will be made available to inquirers through either Scott Palmer or Brian Barry at the NYS Gaming Commission. from the SOA of NY

Pursuant to the Directive for Harness Racing Horses Linked to Alleged Drug Violations issued March 17, 2020, all horses claimed, sold or otherwise transferred from a summarily suspended, indicted trainer or a trainer named in a criminal complaint in the 60 days prior to the date of the announcement of the indictment or criminal complaint, were placed on the Steward’s List. Such Commission Directive provided that hair sampling could occur once 30 days have passed since the claimed, sold or otherwise transferred horse arrived at the new trainer’s barn.  In furtherance of such Directive, the Commission has determined to commence hair testing on standardbred horses on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. Until further notice, such testing shall be conducted at the following locations: Buffalo Raceway 5600 McKinley Parkway Hamburg   Monticello Raceway 204 State Route 17B Monticello   Saratoga Raceway 342 Jefferson Street Saratoga Springs   Testing will only occur on an appointment basis, secured through the Presiding Judge of the appropriate racetrack. Should qualifiers be authorized, the Commission will expand testing availability.  For horses outside the State of New York, the Commission will only accept hair sampling if performed by the State’s racing regulatory office. Such office may make arrangements for the submission of such samples through the Office of the Equine Medical Director by contacting me at To: All New York Licensed Trainers and Veterinarians From: Scott E. Palmer Date: April 24, 2020  

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