Trainers Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh are fighting for their respective careers after being disqualified by racing authorities for cobalt offences.
O’Brien was on Wednesday banned for four years by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board over the administration of cobalt to racehorses.
Kavanagh, who won the 2009 Melbourne Cup with Shocking, was disqualified for three years.
Vet Tom Brennan has been banned for five years.
The trainers immediately lodged an appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) and were granted a stay of proceedings with a directions hearing to take place at 2.15pm (AEDT) on Thursday.
The stay enables the trainers to continue racing their horses until its expiry at 5.30pm on Thursday.
Counsel for the trainers, Damian Sheales, has compared the proceedings against his clients to the Salem witch trials and says he will be seeking to extend the stay at the directions hearing.
O’Brien says he is not satisfied with the way Racing Victoria has handled the process.
“We’ve raised some real issues about how this scenario’s played out over the last 12 months,” O’Brien said.
“We still haven’t had any answers … the chief integrity officer has gone missing.”
The trainers hope by going to VCAT they will be able to subpoena and question officials.
O’Brien has expressed disappointment that counsel was unable to cross examine Racing Victoria chief steward Terry Bailey and Dion Villella, from RV’s Compliance and Assurance Team, during the seven-day hearing into the charges against them.
“At the end of the day they’re really only holding back the tide for when we get to VCAT and everything is examined properly in a real, adult court,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien and Kavanagh, along with Brennan, were found guilty in December of the administration of cobalt for the purpose of affecting the performance of a horse in a race.
Four O’Brien-trained horses and the Kavanagh-trained Magicool returned levels of cobalt above the 200 micrograms per litre of urine threshold in 2014.