By: Danny Russell
PROMISING colt Bondeiger was sold as part of a seven-figure deal last year despite stewards knowing the horse had tested positive for cobalt.
Bondeiger, trained by Danny O’Brien, had finished second in the VRC Derby behind Preferment in November and was heading towards stallion-making race the Australian Guineas in the autumn.
The War Pass colt, bought by Laurence Eales as a yearling, was valued at $1 million.
Stewards learnt that Bondeiger had returned a cobalt positive on November 21 — 20 days after his Derby run.
But John O’Neill bought into the horse on November 27 without any of the parties being aware of the positive test.
Stewards advised O’Brien and fellow trainer Mark Kavanagh on January 14 their horses had positive cobalt tests.
Peter Moody, whose cobalt hearing began on Monday, was told on January 13.
On Monday, the Herald Sun revealed that another O’Brien horse, De Little Engine, was allowed to run three times after stewards knew it had tested above the cobalt threshold.
The rules of racing state that “on the detection by an official racing laboratory of a prohibited substance in a sample taken from a horse” the lab must notify stewards who “shall thereupon notify the trainer of the horse”.
The Australian Trainers’ Association sought a meeting with Racing Victoria on Wednesday to discuss the issue.
De Little Engine’s owner, Jeff Dimery, said he would consider legal action if RV could not explain why his horse was allowed to race.
Dimery, owner of Uluru Stud, said if stewards had followed due process, “we wouldn’t be in this mess”.
The positive reading came from De Little Engine’s win at Ballarat on November 22 last year. It was revealed RV’s lab, Racing Integrity Services Limited, was informed of the positive on December 4.
Yet De Little Engine went on to win at Sandown on December 6 and Flemington on December 20, before running third in the Bagot Handicap at Flemington on January 1.
Racing Victoria was aware of six positive drug tests to cobalt when its chief steward Terry Bailey declared the 2014 spring carnival drug free and the “best’’ in a decade.