RV ‘jumped gun’ on cobalt: trainers

width="800" A barrister says the cobalt issue has been proven to be “about absolutely nothing”.

Racing Victoria jumped the gun in bringing in its cobalt threshold with no proper scientific backing, a tribunal has heard.

Victorian trainers Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh are trying to overturn their cobalt disqualifications by arguing the laboratories that did the testing were not properly accredited at the time.

Their barrister Damian Sheales said Racing Victoria had misled the public about cobalt over the past 18 months when ultimately science had proved it to be “about absolutely nothing”.

Sheales said RV had created a mess by bringing in its cobalt threshold in April 2014 without waiting for the proper science to be determined.

“What Racing Victoria has really done is fire an arrow and then walk up to the tree and draw a bullseye around where the arrow landed,” Sheales told the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal on Monday.

Sheales said in April 2014, Australasian racing laboratories proposed a combined scientific study that would allow for the establishment of appropriate thresholds for arsenic and cobalt.

“Well too late in Victoria – the gun had been well and truly jumped on no science,” he said.

The national rule came into effect in January 2015.

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Sheales said the Perth-based ChemCentre was not properly accredited at the time tests were done on urine samples from four O’Brien-trained horses and the Kavanagh-trained Magicool.

RV barrister Jeff Gleeson QC said the horses returned extraordinarily high cobalt readings after races in late 2014.

Gleeson said O’Brien and Kavanagh have both told many lies since the cobalt readings.

Gleeson said things went terribly wrong for them when NSW stewards caught Kavanagh’s trainer son Sam with a bottle containing massive quantities of cobalt hidden in his kitchen cupboard in NSW.

Gleeson said vet Tom Brennan eventually cracked and admitted O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh paid him $3000 for three bottles.

“Brennan and O’Brien and Kavanagh tried to hold the lines and the lies to the stewards in the subsequent interviews but Brennan eventually cracked,” Gleeson said.

O’Brien was in January disqualified for four years and Kavanagh for three years for administering cobalt to affect the performance of a horse in a race.

Brennan, who has also been outed by Racing NSW stewards, has withdrawn his appeal over his five-year ban in Victoria.

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