Stew­ards go to VCAT on de­ci­sion

Seymour Telegraph - - LOCAL CLASSIES - Avenel’s Josh Aiken drives El­jaykay Phoenix to win at Mel­ton two years ago. The horse’s form has since ta­pered off and it was the sub­ject of Aiken’s suc­cess­ful ap­peal to the code’s dis­ci­plinary board over a sus­pen­sion he in­curred driv­ing it in a race in 2

Har­ness Rac­ing Vic­to­ria stew­ards have ap­plied to the Vic­to­rian Civil and Ad­min­is­tra­tive Tri­bunal for a review of the de­ci­sion by HRV Rac­ing Ap­peals and Dis­ci­plinary (RAD) Board af­ter Avenel reins­man Josh Aiken suc­cess­fully ap­pealed a six-week driv­ing sus­pen­sion from a race at Mel­ton last Novem­ber,

Aiken, who rep­re­sented him­self at the De­cem­ber 14 hear­ing, was found not guilty by the dis­ci­plinary board re­lat­ing to a charge is­sued by HRV Stew­ards un­der Aus­tralian Har­ness Rac­ing Rule 149(1) of fail­ing to take all rea­son­able and per­mis­si­ble mea­sures when the driver of El­jaykay Phoenix in Race 2 at Tab­corp Park Mel­ton on Novem­ber 5.

The ap­peals board, chaired by Tony Burns, said while Aiken may have made an er­ror of judge­ment he was not cul­pa­ble of the se­ri­ous charge laid by stew­ards.

Mr Burns said in his find­ing: ‘‘Mr Aiken, driv­ing the favourite, fin­ished in sec­ond plac­ing in cir­cum­stances where the stew­ards as­sert he should have main­tained a trail four wide around 400 m from the fin­ish line to move five wide into the straight for a clear run home. This had in fact been the horse’s re­cent rac­ing pat­tern in two of its last three starts.

‘‘In­stead Mr Aiken moved down the track to a po­si­tion be­hind the sec­ond favourite — three out from the pegs. While this seems to be an odd de­ci­sion, it was made by Mr Aiken on the ba­sis that he per­ceived the horse was rac­ing roughly and mov­ing his head around. Stew­ards agree this did oc­cur mo­men­tar­ily as well. Mr Aiken’s ev­i­dence was that he recog­nised the horse’s be­hav­iour to be a pre­cur­sor to it break­ing into a gallop.

‘‘In­deed the horse had bro­ken or be­haved badly in 10 of its last 17 starts while it had won only two of its last 17 starts af­ter be­ing a most promis­ing two-year-old.

‘‘Mr Aiken has driven this horse in all but two of its 32 starts and it is rea­son­able to pre­sume that no one knows it bet­ter.

‘‘To find the charge proven we would need to be able to com­fort­ably re­ject his ev­i­dence that he per­ceived the horse was about to gallop.’’

The review will be listed for a VCAT di­rec­tions hear­ing at a date to be fixed.

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