VIC - Stewards Supplementary Reports

11 March 2018
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Geelong – 3 January 2018

RACE 6 - GEELONG'S CLASSIC ROCK 4TH MARCH PACE (2100 MS)

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards have concluded their inquiry into the drives of Rhys Nicholson (Dont Pass Im Fast NZ) and Zac Phillips (Rockabella Starz) in Race 6 conducted at the Geelong meeting on 3 January 2018.

Zac Phillips, driver of Rockabelle Starz, was questioned regarding his decision to surrender the lead to Dont Pass Im Fast NZ passing the 1700m. Mr Phillips explained trainer’s representative Paul Males advised him prior to the race to not make too much use of Rockabella Starz during the early stages as the mare previously had failed to finish the race off strongly in those circumstances when racing over the longer distance of 2200m.  Mr Phillips further explained that in surrendering the lead he was mindful that the speed of the race up until that point had been relatively fast and considering the manner in which Dont Pass Im Fast NZ pulled at its prior start at Bendigo on 23 December 2017 he felt it would be to the detriment of Rockabella Starz to have Dont Pass Im Fast NZ positioned to its outside pulling hard and applying pressure such a distance from the finish. Mr Phillips further explained that he was also of the opinion that Dont Pass Im Fast NZ would be a suitable runner to follow considering the manner in which it won the start prior. Trainer’s representative Paul Males confirmed the advice provided to Mr Phillips prior to the race.

Mr Phillips was further questioned regarding the reasons for Rockabella Starz obtaining a clear run to the inside of the leader Dont Pass Im Fast NZ prior to the sprint lane becoming available. Mr Phillips explained that when Dont Pass Im Fast NZ shifted out prior to the 200m he took advantage of the opportunity to improve his position when the run presented.

Rhys Nicholson, driver of Dont Pass Im Fast NZ, was questioned regarding the reasons for not obtaining the position behind the leader Rockabella Starz when the opportunity presented at the 2000m and further the reasons for Dont Pass Im Fast NZ shifting out when leading passing the 300m resulting in Rockabella Starz obtaining a clear run to his inside prior to the sprint lane being available. Mr Nicholson explained that he did not contemplate obtaining the position behind Rockabella Starz due to Dont Pass Im Fast NZ pulling very hard after the start and at its most recent start at Bendigo on 23 December 2017. Mr Nicholson explained that the mare continued to pull hard after obtaining the lead and in his opinion choked down which resulted in Dont Pass Im Fast NZ shifting out when under pressure rounding the final turn despite his efforts.

Post-race veterinary examination of Dont Pass Im Fast NZ revealed the mare to be displaying a delayed post-race recovery.

This matter was initially adjourned to allow Stewards the opportunity to review the wagering activity on this race, which did not reveal any area of concern.

At the resumption of the inquiry further evidence was taken from Rhys Nicholson, driver of Dont Tell Im Fast NZ, Dr Simon Pearce the officiating veterinarian at Geelong on 3 January 2018 and review of the prior race start of Dont Pass Im Fast NZ at Bendigo on 23 December 2017.

Dr Simon Pearce provided further evidence regarding his post-race veterinary examination of Dont Pass Im Fast NZ and advised that on his post-race findings it was highly likely Dont Pass Im Fast NZ had choked down during the event after pulling hard.

After considering all the evidence Stewards made the following determinations:

-              The decision of Rhys Nicholson to not obtain the position behind the leader Rockabella Starz at the 2000m was reasonable considering the mare’s racing manners after the start and at its prior race start at Bendigo on 23 December 2017;

-              The decision of Zac Phillips to surrender the lead to Dont Pass Im Fast NZ was reasonable considering the speed of the race at that time and his concerns that Dont Pass Im Fast NZ would apply significant pressure to Rockabella Starz should he not surrender the lead were reasonably held. In making these determinations Stewards were mindful of the faster than average lead time which was recorded and the racing manners of Dont Pass Im Fast NZ shortly after the start and at its prior start at Bendigo on 23 December 2017;

-              Stewards could not be satisfied to the required standard that the racing manners of Dont Pass Im Fast NZ were not the main factor for the mare shifting out passing the 300m resulting in Rockabella Starz obtaining a clear run to its inside. In arriving at this outcome Stewards were mindful of the veterinary evidence which supported the evidence tendered by Mr Nicholson, that Dont Pass Im Fast NZ also shifted out when leading rounding the final turn at its prior start at Bendigo on 23 December 2017 and it was evident on the available replays that Mr Nicholson made attempts to correct Dont Pass Im Fast NZ prior to Rockabella Starz obtaining a full run to his inside.

In view of the above no further action was taken regarding the matter.