The Victorian trainers facing cobalt charges are free to continue training pending their hearings, unlike two of their NSW counterparts.
Danny O’Brien, Mark Kavanagh and the father and son partnership of Lee and Shannon Hope were charged on Thursday after horses in their stables returned cobalt readings above the threshold of 200 micrograms per litre in urine.
Racing Victoria’s executive general manager of Integrity Services, Dayle Brown, said the governing body had considered standing the trainers down but determined their cases were different from those of Sam Kavanagh and Darren Smith in NSW.
Sam Kavanagh, the son of Mark Kavanagh, and Smith provided certain admissions and were stood down before their hearings. Smith’s inquiry has been completed with the trainer disqualified for 15 years.
Dr Tom Brennan, a vet from the Flemington Equine clinic, has been charged by Victorian stewards in the Mark Kavanagh and O’Brien cases.
Brennan also appeared before Racing NSW stewards this week at the opening of the inquiry into the case against Sam Kavanagh.
“We feel that to stand the trainers down is not appropriate and they’re entitled to meet these charges and they’ll meet these charges in a very short time before the RAD Board,” Brown told Melbourne radio station RSN.
Brown said the case of harness racing trainer Craig Demmler, who had been stood down by Harness Racing Victoria before winning an appeal at VCAT, had influenced the decision.
He said the stewards had to look at the legal nuances in each case.
“In these cases we don’t think we’ve reached the threshold where we think the standing down of the trainers is appropriate,” he said.
Chief steward Terry Bailey said horses involved in the cobalt inquiry, which include last Saturday’s Queensland Derby winner Magicool and the favourite for Saturday’s Banjo Paterson at Flemington, De Little Engine, have been subjected to stringent testing.
“We’re satisfied they are being presented drug free and have no real reason to stand them down,” Bailey said.
Brown said a directions hearing could be held within the next couple of weeks ahead of the inquiries before the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board.