Ban reduced, fine dropped for top Canterbury harness racing driver Blair Orange

Blair Orange. Photo: Getty Images
Blair Orange. Photo: Getty Images
Top Canterbury harness racing driver Blair Orange’s eight-week ban for being over the breath alcohol limit has been reduced by two weeks.

His $1000 fine was also dropped.

Orange recorded breath alcohol levels of 199mcg/l and 190mcg/l before a race at the Banks Peninsula Trotting Club meeting at Motukarara Raceway on January 24.

Blair Orange.
Blair Orange.
He was also ordered to pay $750 in Judicial Control Authority.

Orange appealed the sentence. The JCA released its decision this week, reducing Orange’s ban and dropping the $1000 fine. He can resume driving at race meetings on March 22.

Drivers need to be below 100mcg/l to comply with harness racing rules.

An eight-week suspension was also handed down to trainer driver Bob Butt for recording breath alcohol levels of 268mcg/l and 287mcg/l at the Banks Peninsula meeting, but he did not appeal the penalty.

Orange’s lawyer Jonathan Eaton QC argued the ban was “excessive” compared to other suspensions.

He said Orange’s breath alcohol level was much less than that recorded by jockey Jamie Gillies, who had an alcohol level of 515mcg/l before a race in 2009. In both cases, the ban starting point was six weeks, which Eaton argued was inconsistent.

In 2016 at a race meeting in Central Otago, Orange recorded a breath alcohol level of 334mcg/l. He was then suspended from driving for five driving days and fined $1050.

Eaton also argued Orange’s eight week ban was excessive as it was the same as Butt’s.

He said Butt had a prior offence which happened less than five years ago, and Orange’s previous offence was outside the five-year period.

Eaton said Orange’s indiscretion was a “genuine error” of judgement.

Since the original eight week ban was imposed, Orange had completed a rehabilitation course with the Salvation Army, Eaton said.

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