Racing Victoria’s chief executive says the racing authority will review the judgment in the long-running cobalt case against prominent trainers Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh in which the trainers have been fined.
Giles Thompson said the action taken by RV’s Integrity Services was appropriate after horses trained by the two were found to have illegal levels of cobalt in their systems.
The Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board disqualified O’Brien for four years and Kavanagh for three after finding them guilty of administering cobalt.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal dismissed the charges against the trainers, a decision RV took to the Court Of Appeal.
Victoria’s highest court supported the VCAT ruling and sent the case back there for penalty on the charge of presentation with Justice Garde releasing his decision on Tuesday.
“We accept VCAT’s ruling that the trainers breached the rules set down to ensure a level playing field. Trainers are ultimately responsible for the care of their horses and ensuring they’re presented to race free of prohibited substances,” Thompson said.
“We will review today’s judgment, taking advice from our Integrity Council, and consider whether the rule and penalty framework is consistent with the expectations of the wider industry and the community when rules are broken and horses compete with a prohibited substance in their system.
“Our priority has always been to protect the integrity of Victorian thoroughbred racing and the welfare of all participants, including our horses. We took this action because the horses involved returned cobalt readings that were excessively above the permitted threshold when they were presented to the racetrack in breach of the Rules of Racing.
“Every trainer, jockey, owner and punter must be confident that they are competing on a level playing field where horses are competing on their merits. Where we find a breach of the rules, our participants, our customers and the wider public expect us to take action.”
Since RV introduced cobalt testing in April 2014, close to 12,000 samples have been tested and 99.84 per cent have not exceeded the threshold.
Thompson acknowledged the appeals process had taken too long with the two trainers first charged in January 2015.
“We believe that the legal appeals process took too long and welcome further industry discussion around reforms to achieve a quicker resolution of integrity matters that helps to reduce the time and cost burden on all parties,” he said.