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Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v T S Chmiel - Penalty Decision dated 12 December 2019 - Chair, Mr R G McKenzie

Created on 13 December 2019



IN THE MATTER of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing

IN THE MATTER of Information No. A9037

BETWEEN S P RENAULT, Stipendiary Steward for the Racing Integrity Unit




Date of Hearing: 8 December 2019

Venue: Mt Harding Racecourse, Methven

Judicial Committee: R G McKenzie (Chair)

O K Jarvis

Present: Mr Renault, the Informant

Mr Chmiel, the Respondent

Mrs C M Tibbs, Stipendiary Steward

Date of Written Decision: 12 December 2019


The Charge

[1] Information No. A9037 was filed by Stipendiary Steward, Mr S P Renault, against Licensed Open Driver, Mr T S Chmiel, alleging that Mr Chmiel, as the driver of CANSTAR in the Race 9, Christchurch Casino Mobile Pace, at the meeting of New Zealand Metropolitan TC meeting held at Addington Raceway on 7 December 2019, he “drove carelessly near the 1450 metres by shifting inwards when insufficiently clear of MAHARANI (M J Anderson) resulting in CANSTAR sustaining a punctured sulky tyre”

[2] Mr Renault produced a letter signed by Mr Godber, General Manager of the Racing Integrity Unit, pursuant to Rule 1108 (2), authorising the filing of the information. The information was served on Mr Chmiel on 8 December 2019 and was heard at the meeting of Methven TC held at Mt Harding Racecourse on that day.

[3] The charge was read to Mr Chmiel at the commencement of the hearing. He confirmed that he understood the charge and that he admitted the charge.

The Rule

[4] Rule 869 provides as follows:

(3) No driver in any race shall drive:

(b) carelessly.


[5] Mr Renault showed video replays of the incident at approximately the 1450 metres. He showed MAHARANI, driven by Mr Anderson, leading the field passing the 1600 metres with Mr Chmiel, driving CANSTAR, challenging for the lead at that point. MAHARANI was overracing and Mr Anderson was attempting to restrain it.

Near the 1450 metres, Mr Chmiel took the lead but, in doing so, got too close to MAHARANI and his inside sulky wheel made contact with the leg of that runner, The sulky tyre of Mr Chmiel’s runner punctured immediately and it ran the rest of the race with that flat tyre. Mr Renault demonstrated the point of contact on a closeup video replay. Mr Chmiel was “inches away from being clear”, Mr Renault said.

Mr Chmiel pointed out that Mr Anderson’s horse had been “pulling quite hard” and was a long-strider. He had thought that he was clear, Mr Chmiel said. He submitted there was “not much carelessness in it”. The other horse had just touched his tyre and he had been unlucky. The tyre being deflated did not affect the horse’s performance, Mr Chmiel said, but it made it an uncomfortable drive.

Mr Renault said that Mr Anderson had been intent on restraining his runner and it was overracing. Mr Anderson had confirmed this to Stewards. He also confirmed that MAHARANI had quite a long action. Mr Chmiel had come in “a stride or two too soon”, otherwise he would have been clear of Mr Anderson’s horse.


[6] Mr Chmiel having admitted the breach, the charge is found proved.

Penalty Submissions

[7] Mr Renault told the hearing that Mr Chmiel, has had 54 drives to date this season. Last season he had 215 drives. His record is a good one. He drives, on average, 4-5 times per meeting, Mr Renault said. He is quite a busy driver.

Mr Renault asked for this charge to be dealt with as a first breach because it was heard before another careless driving charge arising from an incident earlier in the race. Mr Renault then referred to the Penalty Guide starting point for a breach of the rule of a 10 drives’ suspension or a $500 fine and submitted that a 2-days suspension was an appropriate penalty.

Mr Chmiel sought a deferment until after the meeting of NZ Metropolitan TC on Friday, 13 December. The hearing then looked at upcoming meetings at which Mr Chmiel would be likely to drive.

Reasons for Penalty

[8] This breach is a second breach of the careless driving rule following the imposition of sentence for the breach that took place at an earlier stage of the race. The Penalty Guide starting point for penalty is a 3-days suspension.

Accepting Mr Chmiel’s explanation as to the effect of the punctured tyre, there are no aggravating actors. Mitigating factors are, firstly, Mr Chmiel’s admission of the breach. Secondly, the low degree of carelessness – it was a slight misjudgement by Mr Chmiel, the contact with his sulky wheel was little more than a touch. Thirdly, we agree with Mr Chmiel, and it was accepted by Mr Renault, that MAHARANI does have an unusually long stride.

Taking the starting point of a 3-days suspension, and there being no aggravating factors, the Committee gives Mr Chmiel a discount of 1 day for those mitigating factors.


[9] Mr Chmiel’s Open Driver’s licence is suspended from 19 December 2019 to 21 December 2019 (both dates inclusive) – 2 days. The meetings intended to be encompassed by the period of suspension are NZ Metropolitan TC on 20 December 2019 and Wairio TC on 21 December 2019.

R G McKenzie


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