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Stewards Conclude Inquiry Into Licensed Trainer Shari-Lea Hitchcock

Racing NSW Stewards have conducted an inquiry relating to matters concerning licensed trainer Ms Shari-Lea Hitchcock.

The following matters were inquired into:-

1. Death of the racehorse Tony’s Princess at Kembla Grange on 15 May 2018 and failure to comply with AR64J(1), in that the horse was disposed of without written approval from Racing NSW.
2. Her conduct in recording a Stewards inquiry conducted on 29 May 2018, without the knowledge or permission of the Stewards.
3. Allegation from Mr J Lloyd-Jones that she amended the ownership percentage on the horse Duchess Royale without Mr Lloyd-Jones’ authority, when the horse was registered with Racing Australia in 2014.
4. Ms Hitchcock’s conduct and behaviour towards Racing NSW Stewards Mr Troy Vassallo and Mr Teague McDonald.

Evidence today (13th September 2018) was taken from Ms Hitchcock, registered owner Mr J Lloyd-Jones and Stipendiary Stewards Mr Troy Vassallo and Mr Teague McDonald.

Stewards issued the following charges against Ms Hitchcock.

1. AR64J(1) – Death of Tony’s Princess
The details of the charge being that as the authorised agent for the racehorse Tony’s Princess she did authorise the disposal of the racehorse Tony’s Princess after the horse died at her stables at Kembla Grange on 15 May 2018 without written approval from Racing NSW and without a veterinary certificate advising of the cause of death.

Plea: Guilty

2. AR175(a) – Committing an improper action
The details of the charge being on or around 14 May 2014 that Ms Hitchcock committed an improper action by amending the 10% percentage share signed for by Mr Jonathan Lloyd-Jones to 5% in the application to register the racehorse Duchess Royale, without the approval of Mr Lloyd-Jones, such application being submitted to the Registrar of Racehorses on 19 May 2014.

Plea: Not Entered – Matter Adjourned for further evidence

3. AR175(j) – Insulting and improper behaviour towards the Stewards
a. On 28 June 2018 in a telephone conversation with Stipendiary Steward Mr Troy Vassallo she behaved insultingly and improperly towards Mr Vassallo;
b. In email communication to Stipendiary Steward Mr Teague McDonald on 21 June 2018 she behaved insultingly and improperly towards Mr McDonald.

Having regard to the principals of both general and specific deterrence, including what message is to be sent to the community at large to indicate that those who are likeminded to engage in such conduct, what the likely consequences are and secondly to indicate to the broader community that thoroughbred racing is operating at the highest possible standards, the Stewards issued the following penalties:-

1. AR64J(1) – $750 Fine
2. AR175(a) – Adjourned
3. AR175(j) – 3 months’ suspension of trainer’s licence commencing 13 September 2018 and expiring on 13 December 2018 and $1000 fine

Unauthorised recording of inquiry
After considering Ms Hitchcock’s actions and explanation in recording the Stewards inquiry on 29 May 2018 without the permission of the Stewards, the Stewards chose not to issue any charge against Ms Hitchcock, however, she was advised that her actions were inappropriate in the circumstances and she should desist from such practices in the future.

Mr Hitchcock was advised of her right of appeal.

Relevant Rules
AR 64J. (1) Upon the death of a Named Horse, which has not been retired from racing pursuant to AR.64JA, the Manager, or his or her Authorised agent, must, within 24 hours of the horse being deceased, notify Racing Australia by lodging the Death Notification form prescribed by Racing Australia and must not dispose of the horse without the written approval of the relevant Principal Racing Authority unless a veterinary certificate as to cause of death is provided.

AR 175. The Principal Racing Authority (or the Stewards exercising powers delegated to them) may penalise;
(a) Any person, who, in their opinion, has been guilty of any dishonest, corrupt, fraudulent, improper or dishonourable action or practice in connection with racing.

AR 175. The Principal Racing Authority (or the Stewards exercising powers delegated to them) may penalise;
(j) Any person guilty of improper or insulting behaviour at any time towards the Principal Racing Authority, the Committee of any Club or Association, or Stewards, or any official or employee of the Principal Racing Authority, Club or Association, in relation to their or his duties.

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