Australian trainers Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh have been banned four and three years, respectively, by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board for charges related to cobalt positives returned by horses under their care last year. Veterinarian Tom Brennan has been disqualified five years for his involvement in multiple cobalt cases.
Both trainers have appealed their bans and were on Tuesday granted a stay of proceedings by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which allowed their horses to run at Wednesday’s Geelong meeting.
“We are really pleased to get this part of the process behind us,” The Flemington trainer told assembled media after the penalties were announced. “Obviously, it has been a long 12 months and certainly some of the process has been less than satisfactory.”
“You’ll all be aware that we’ve raised some real issues with how this scenario has played out over the last 12 months before Christmas,” O’Brien said.
He continued, “We still haven’t had any answers from [Racing Victoria]. The chief integrity officer has gone missing for I believe it will be seven weeks when he supposedly comes back on the first of February. I guess that’s probably the first time where we’ll get some idea of where they stand on all this but 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.”
The minimum penalty for breaching the Australian Racing Rule for administration of a prohibited substance is three years, which was the banned copped by Kavanagh for a cobalt positive returned by Group 1 winner Magicool. O’Brien had four horses test positive, and received four months to be served concurrently after the initial offence.
Brennan received five years for his involvement in all five cases, and his sentence has been backdated to Aug. 1 of last year, when he ceased practicing pending the cobalt hearing. The cobalt positives were allegedly returned from a vitamin supplement supplied by Brennan.
The cases of O’Brien and Kavanagh are two of a handful for Victorian trainers in an ongoing cobalt saga. The father-son training partnership of Lee and Shannon Hope were banned for three and five years, respectively, for cobalt charges late last year, and still in the pipeline in the case of champion Victorian trainer Peter Moody.
Kavanagh’s Sydney-based son, Sam Kavanagh, was banned nine years and three months last year for 23 cobalt offences, in which Brennan was also allegedly involved. Another New South Wales trainer, Darren Smith, was banned 15 years for cobalt-related charges in 2014.