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The cobalt scandal that has rocked the world of thoroughbred racing continues to snowball as another high profile and reputable Sydney trainer was disqualified. Kevin Moses, former champion jockey and now successful trainer was disqualified for 12 months by the Racing NSW panel of stewards recently. His horse Felix Bay, who finished 5th in a benchmark 75 race at Hawksbury on 16 April 2015 was shown to have readings of between 250 and 262 units where the cobalt threshold is 200.

Top line trainers, Mark Kavanagh, Danny O’Brien and Peter Moody are in the middle of charges concerning elevated levels of cobalt where the trainers have fought long and hard to continue training pending the outcome of the hearings. Kavanagh and O’Brien recently had a partial victory in their appeal against the stewards’ decision to basically sequester any prize money earnings that they have in the coming Spring Carnival until their hearings are dealt with. The Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board allowed the stewards to impose a threshold of $100,000.00 and $200,000.00 for the prize money winnings for Kavanagh and O’Brien respectively. Kavanagh faces charges in relation to one horse and O’Brien, four.

There are reportedly many other charges in the wings with testing going back over a substantial amount of time which is likely to result in further charges being brought against trainers.

The improvement and sophistication in the testing regime of stewards across Australia now imposes a very heavy burden upon trainers to keep timely and accurate records in relation to the feed and supplements that are provided to the racehorses in their care. This also includes having a register of any veterinary prescriptions that are provided to the horses as well as any treatment. There appears to now be a high level of compliance costs which all trainers must have in order to satisfy the stewards that they have safe and proper systems of feeding and administering any supplements to their horses.

The cobalt saga traces back to January 2014 when champion high profile trainer David Hayes received a package in the post which contained 8 bottles of concentrated cobalt. The cobalt package was meant to be sent to a Mornington Peninsula vet but instead ended up at the Hayes Lindsay Park Euroa veterinary clinic by mistake.

Hayes immediately reported the matter to the stewards and it was from the subsequent testing of these substances that led to the series of events which has resulted in the charges laid against numerous trainers. It appears that a veterinary surgeon was at the centre of vials of cobalt which were sold to certain trainers in Sydney and Melbourne. Flemington Equine Clinic vet Tom Brennan was at the centre of the so-called vitamins which were posted to certain trainers. Brennan has subsequently stepped down as a licensed veterinarian in Victoria.

Trainers and licensed racing participants should ensure that their workplaces have appropriate systems in place to keep accurate records in relation to these issues. This will at least give trainers and licensed persons a chance to meet any charges that may be laid against them by stewards. Trainers should also carefully question any supplements provided by vets and ensure they obtain documentary proof of the products used.

Should you require any legal advice or assistance with these issues, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced thoroughbred breeding and racing lawyers, Jeff Garrett or Richard Smith. Please call department manager Amanda Heather on 1800 621 071 or email aheather@attwoodmarshall.com.au for an initial consultation.

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Jeff Garrett

Jeff Garrett

  • Legal Practice Director
  • Thoroughbred Breeding & Racing Lawyer
  • Direct line: (07) 5506 8201
  • Mobile: 0419 304 174 Email: jgarrett@attwoodmarshall.com.au