Brent Zerafa the latest to be charged in ongoing Sam Kavanagh cobalt inquiries

By: Chris Roots

Media personality Brent Zerafa is the latest to be charged in relation to the ongoing inquiry into the Sam Kavanagh stable.

Zerafa was issued a charge of conduct prejudicial to the image of racing because of his actions when working for defunct television station TVN at Randwick on January 17. Stewards are concerned he backed a winner, Palazzo Pubblico, but failed to tip to it to punters on air.

He joins a long list of people involved in racing to be charged following the investigation, which started with a swab irregularity to caffeine and cobalt taken from Kavanagh’s runner Midsummer Sun after he won the Gosford Cup in January. Zerafa has been stood down by Sky Channel following the charge.

Zerafa had been interviewed by stewards as part of the investigation a couple of weeks ago about texts he received from racing identity John Camilleri, who has answered six charges relating to alleged raceday treatments of horses in the Kavanagh stable.

Camilleri had texted Zerafa a tip for Palazzo Pubblico before it won on January 17 when heavily supported in betting. Stewards stated they have a message from Camilleri to Zerafa, which implied involvement by Camilleri with the Kavanagh stable.

Zerafa was working on TVN on the afternoon and failed to tip Palazzo Pubblico on air, and to punters on track at Randwick. Stewards have evidence from his betting records that he actually backed the winner.

During the hearing into Camilleri’s involvement in raceday treatments, stewards revealed a message believed to have been sent from him to Zerafa.

“These galloping cs have to wake up a week before to outsmart us trotting grubs,” Camilleri texted.

Stewards have stated there are further text communications between the pair after the race where Zerafa made reference to not tipping Palazzo Pubblico in his selections on TVN.

A date to hear the charge has not been announced.

Meanwhile, the second day of hearings regarding the show-cause notice issued to Matthew Rudolph, the Australian Turf Club executive general manager of racing, heard from the vet at the centre of the cobalt inquiries into two states, Tom Brennan.

Rudolph is showing cause to four charges related to meeting, which took place at the Lord Dudley on March 2 between Sam Kavanagh and his father, Mark Kavanagh, that he attended. The charges include dishonest, corrupt, improper and dishonourable conduct, an attempt to obstruct or hinder the stewards in exercising their powers and conduct prejudicial to the image of racing.

Brennan was quizzed about his long friendship with Rudolph and the use of his wife, Emma’s, phone to talk with Rudolph. He stated that the meeting had been set up by Mark Kavanagh, even though he had discussed it with the trainer and “Matt was never meant to go to the meeting. He was to pick Mark Kavanagh up from the airport and take him there.”

Rudolph rang Brennan before and after the meeting.

The hearing by a subcommittee of the Racing NSW board chaired by Ken Brown also heard evidence from ATC director Laurie Macri. It was adjourned until next month for closing submissions.

Trainer Kevin Moses will front stewards on Friday over a cobalt reading above the threshold taken from Felix Bay after it ran fifth at Hawkesbury in May.