Vet says $1000 for vitamins suspicious

Paying $1000 for a bottle of vitamin complex is ridiculous and clearly suspicious, a racehorse vet has told a cobalt inquiry.

But Flemington Equine Clinic partner Dr Ian Church denies lying to NSW stewards when he said there was nothing untoward about the bottle found in trainer Sam Kavanagh’s home.

Church is giving evidence in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal as Mark Kavanagh and fellow Victorian trainer Danny O’Brien try to overturn their cobalt disqualifications.

The appeal hearing has been told vet Dr Tom Brennan, Church’s partner in the clinic, sent the bottle labelled vitamin complex – later found to contain massive quantities of cobalt – to Kavanagh’s son, Sydney trainer Sam Kavanagh.

Racing Victoria barrister Jeff Gleeson QC has said Brennan eventually cracked and admitted O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh paid him $3000 for three bottles.

Church on Wednesday agreed with Gleeson that there would be no reason to pay $1000 for a bottle of vitamins, which the vet said would normally cost something like $20-$50.

Church said he did not know about the vitamin bottles but agreed Brennan paying $1000 a bottle was clearly suspicious.

Dr Amy Kelly, a former Sydney-based vet with Flemington Equine, has said she angrily told Church in February 2015 to tell Brennan to own up to what had happened and that her name was being tarnished.

Church told Kelly “it’s all going to be fine” and “I think it’s best you forget about the bottle”.

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Church admitted he probably did tell her to forget about it.

“I didn’t suggest to Amy Kelly to specifically not tell the truth,” he said later.

VCAT heard Church told a NSW stewards’ inquiry: “I said I certainly didn’t think there anything untoward in the bottle.”

Gleeson asked Church if that was a lie, but the vet said he believed at that stage it was just vitamins in the bottle and it could have contained expensive products that were not prohibited substances.

Gleeson said Church knew when he spoke to Kelly and to the NSW inquiry there was something untoward in the bottle.

“You know 1000 bucks for a bottle is ridiculous,” he said.

Church said he was suspicious about it.

“There were suspicions that this vitamin bottle might have been a problem. I had been reassured by Tom or whoever that it wasn’t a problem,” he said.

“I perhaps naively said this but I don’t believe that I was convinced that it had prohibited substances in it at this time.

“I’m trying to tell the truth.”

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