On Tuesday the 2nd of January 2018 Grant Dixon stormed out in the middle of a reconvened stewards inquiry and, in contravention of an express direction of race day stewards, removed his seven horses due to start at that day’s meeting from the race day stables and left the course.
His trainer and drivers licences were suspended immediately, with the suspension to remain in force until he returned to appear before the stewards to face both the initial charge of driving a horse named Baron Jujon unacceptably in Race 10 at Redcliffe on the 21st of December 2017, and charges relating to the incident on 2 January.
Today at 9.30 am Grant Dixon returned to appear before the stewards to both answer the original charge and to face the music for his actions two days before. Many expected that the stewards would throw the book at the man I call Moses, and on this website we tongue-in-cheek suggested that he would need to take Jesus Christ as his representative and pray that the one-time carpenter resurrected would perform another of his famous miracles in order that Dixon avoid a very lengthy suspension of his licence or a significant period of disqualification from the sport.
It appears that Dixon must have our advice seriously in part, but built upon it by engaging Mr Christ as his instructing solicitor and the lawyers father Mr L. Ord as his counsel, for what other than divine intervention can explain the appallingly inadequate penalties imposed of an 8 week suspension of his drivers licence and a $2000 fine that was imposed on Grant Dixon this morning after he was found guilty of the offence of driving in an unacceptable manner, and plead guilty to a single count of acting in a manner prejudicial or detrimental to the industry?
Editors note: The actual fine was $4000, but half of this penalty has been suspended for 12 months
These penalties are an absolute disgrace, and the decision of the stewards in the determination and issue of them renders Queensland’s oft-stated commitment to maintaining the integrity of harness racing nothing more than a bad joke made in the poorest of taste, and severely damages the fast growing reputation of the recently formed Queensland Racing Integrity Commission.
I will explain the reasons that the matter is of major concern in the next article, but for the moment ask you to consider one very simple question about the oft and rightly criticised disciplinary and judicial process in Queensland racing, for it is a theme that we will be exploring at length in coming weeks.
Dixon’s penalty has been issue by the harness racing stewards.
The stewards are employees of the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC).
They therefore act as agents for their employer QRIC when issuing penalties to harness racing licencees such as Dixon.
If an appeal against the inadequacy of the sentence imposed upon Dixon were to be lodged, it is QRIC as the statutory body responsible for racing integrity that is required to lodge it.
So, here’s the question.
How can QRIC lodge an appeal against a sentence that QRIC imposed?
If anyone has an answer I’d love to hear it.