A horse trainer has been suspended from horse racing and fined $1500 after using a fake vaccine pass to attend a race meet.
Kurtis Pertab attended a race at the Matamata Racing Club in December last year and told stewards at the racecourse he was vaccinated.
Two days later the stewards followed up and asked to see his vaccine pass, which Pertab presented on his cellphone.
But it wasn't a real one and Pertab later admitted to creating a fake pass and that he had not been vaccinated.
He told the Racing Integrity Board he deceived race officials because he did not have confidence the vaccination was going to work and just wanted to earn an income.
"The vast majority of people in the racing industry have understood and followed the rules, even if doing so does not always accord with their best interests," the board said in its decision.
"The respondent's choice to flagrantly disregard the rules to suit his purpose is a serious blow to others within the industry that have religiously followed the rules."
However, the board noted that the "risk posed to public health by persons who chose not to be vaccinated is no longer as relevant as it once was".
It said Omicron was significantly less dangerous than Delta and choosing not to be vaccinated was more of a personal health risk than a public one.
"However, the RIB submits that those who attend an event requiring all attendees to be vaccinated, such as a race meeting and training facilities, are entitled to expect that this requirement will be followed, reducing any potential or perceived risk.
"Any attempt to subvert this expectation involves a significant breach of trust of other attendees and participants."
It went on to say that the sport of racing was extremely privileged to be able to continue operating during periods of the pandemic while other sports were not able to.
"Therefore, incidents such as this place the integrity and viability of the industry at risk."
In his defence Pertab submitted that being suspended for any length of time would mean he suffered extreme financial hardship as his business was solely reliant on horse racing.
He apologised to NZ Track Racing and pleaded guilty early, avoiding a costly in-person meeting.
It didn't stop him being suspended for two months and fined $1500.
Another Manawatu-based horse trainer David Jensen was suspended for three months earlier this year after claiming to be vaccinated when he wasn't.
However, instead of presenting a fake vaccine pass he simply avoided race officials for the duration of the race meeting before getting his second vaccination and pass later.