Senior Sydney racing official Matt Rudolph faces possible disqualification after being found to have acted improperly in the cobalt case against trainer Sam Kavanagh.
Rudolph – the Australian Turf Club’s executive general manager, racing – admitted he had met with Kavanagh and his father, Melbourne trainer Mark Kavanagh, at an eastern suburbs hotel in March to discuss Sam Kavanagh’s evidence to a stewards inquiry.
After that meeting came to light via Sam Kavanagh’s counsel Tony Hartnell, Rudolph was issued a show cause notice by Racing NSW which was heard by a sub committee of the board in August.
At the hearing, Rudolph denied trying to influence Sam Kavanagh to change his evidence that the source of the cobalt was vet Dr Tom Brennan, a long-time friend of Rudolph.
A partner in the Flemington Equine Clinic, Brennan was one of six people including Kavanagh, outed at the conclusion of the stewards hearings sparked by an elevated level of cobalt found in Midsummer Sun after he won the Gosford Cup in January.
Brennan originally denied supplying Kavanagh with a substance called Vitamin Complex which was found on analysis to contain high levels of cobalt.
He later admitted he had lied to the stewards inquiry but denied at both hearings he had tried to get Kavanagh to change his evidence.
Sam Kavanagh admitted he was in a highly anxious state at the March 2 meeting with his father and Rudolph.
He said Rudolph told him “don’t throw people under the bus” at the meeting which became heated.
“Matt Rudolph told me to `take Tom out of this’,” Kavanagh told the hearing.
“I felt ambushed.”
Rudolph told the inquiry he believed Brennan was innocent and he told Sam Kavanagh: “The Tom Brennan I know would not supply cobalt.”
“I was only declaring an opinion. I wasn’t holding a gun to his head,” Rudolph said.
But in its findings published on Monday, the RNSW sub committee said it was “of the view that Mr Rudolph positioned himself and contrived to attend the meeting”.
The report said the sub committee’s view was that the meeting was orchestrated by Brennan with Rudolph’s complicit involvement.
It said Rudolph’s conduct: “was an attempt to obstruct or hinder the stewards in the exercise of their powers or duties”; “amounted to misconduct or improper conduct”; and “was prejudicial to the interests and welfare of racing”.
The sub committee will hear submissions on penalty next week.