By: Andrew Eddy
Former Racing Victoria senior steward Kane Ashby strongly denied on Thursday that he knew the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s laboratory was not accredited to test for cobalt when samples taken from horses of trainers Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh were sent there in 2014.
“That is absolute nonsense,” he told legal counsel Damian Sheales, who is representing the disqualified Flemington trainers at the appeal before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
“I would have informed my superiors if that was the case,” Ashby continued.
Ashby was on the witness stand all morning, where he was cross-examined by Sheales about his knowledge of the new protocols Racing Victoria were putting together in 2014 to test for cobalt abuse.
Sheales argued that many of the new protocols put in place to test for cobalt did not comply with the rules of racing under ARR 178D.
The appeal had heard on Wednesday from Dr Terence Wan that the HKJC laboratory informed Racing Analytical Services Limited in Victoria that they had the capability to test for cobalt but their method had not yet been accredited by their national body.
Ashby denied knowledge of this but did agree with Sheales that several aspects of Australian Racing Rule 178D were not followed in 2014 concerning the testing for cobalt in thoroughbred horses.
He agreed with Sheales that the cobalt samples from O’Brien and Kavanagh’s horses were not tested at the first instance and instead were split to be tested for cobalt in West Australia.
Ashby also agreed that under ARR178D, the WA lab Chemcentre did not nominate another laboratory to confirm the test results and also that the trainers were not informed of the findings as stated under the rules.
The afternoon session was to get underway at 2.15pm, leaving only two hours remaining for evidence to be heard in the appeal, originally scheduled for nine days.
It is likely the appeal will reconvene on September 5 to hear further evidence from the likes of RASL chief David Batty as well as chief steward Terry Bailey and chief veterinarian Dr Brian Stewart.