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McDonald appeal dismissed
10 Apr 2017 | ThoroughbredNEWS News Desk 

The Racing Appeals Tribunal NSW on Monday dismissed the appeal of jockey James McDonald over the severity of his disqualification for a breach of AR 83 (d) in that he had an interest in a bet placed by Anthony Gardiner on the horse Astern to win race 1 the Surf Meets Turf Plate at Randwick on December 5th, 2015.

The Tribunal dismissed the appeal and ordered that the period of disqualification of 18 months to commence on 15 November 2016 is imposed.

In the reasons for the penality decision the Tribunal said it was "concerned by a number of other facts because they relate to the appellant's conduct up until the time he commenced to admit his culpability at the inquiry. He was on notice that the stewards were observing his conduct.

"That fact is established because on 3 September 2015 he was spoken to by the stewards when he was at the starting barrier because the stewards had observed him to have a brief acknowledgement contact with Mr Gardiner at the mounting yard. He was warned in respect of that association. He subsequently underwent interviews on 3 September 2016 and 15 November 2016 on his conduct and all of this was prior to the inquiry on 15 December 2016. Of course these matters have less consequence for the appellant on the issue of penalty because they post dated his conduct but they are relevant to the extent to which remorse and contrition, relevant to a civil disciplinary penalty and future conduct, can be given weight.

"Further however those concerns are ameliorated by the agreement of the respondent as to the discount to be given for the admission of the breach and cooperation with the stewards. His prevarication and lies at interview and at the the stewards’ inquiry before he eventually made admissions are not pressed on objective seriousness nor on any loss of discounts for subjective facts."

The Tribunal said; "This appellant was on notice that his conduct was under observation by the stewards. Before his admissions he was interviewed twice and lied and denied. For a good part of the stewards inquiry he lied and denied. Even after he commenced to make admissions he continued to lie and deny on other points. That could not be seen to be an early admission or cooperation. Of course the eventual admissions and their maintenance on appeal had a substantial utilitarian value. Accordingly future appellants should not assume that the type of conduct engaged in by this appellant will necessarily mean that a discount of 25% will be given. Each case must be determined on its own facts and circumstances.

"The circumstances in which the bet was placed by the use of an intermediary do not stand well on an integrity basis because the use of agents is obviously part of a subterfuge to avoid detection. The Tribunal cannot condone the use of a subterfuge. Of course it would be naive not to understand that a jockey could hardly place a bet personally without being detected. The concern is that once a jockey starts to use an agent that others may become involved and other integrity issues enlivened."

Link - Full Racing Appeals Tribunal NSW Penality Decision

James McDonald returns with Astern after winning at Randwick on December 5th, 2015, picture


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