By: Adam Pengilly

The long-running cobalt affair is set to drag on for months with a host of parties penalised by Racing NSW stewards over their involvement indicating they will launch immediate appeals, including banned trainer Sam Kavanagh.

Any chance of Kavanagh returning to the sport appears remote after he was disqualified for almost a decade when sanctions were announced on Monday.

Kavanagh was found guilty on 23 of 24 charges over the affair, which was triggered when Midsummer Sun returned a positive to cobalt and caffeine after his successful Gosford Gold Cup defence in January. Stewards imposed a ban of nine years and three months and also fined Kavanagh $3000.

Kavanagh’s disqualification will expire on August 20, 2024.

When contacted by Fairfax Media on Monday, Kavanagh said: “All I will say is I will be launching an appeal.”

Stewards finally disqualified Midsummer Sun from his first placing in the Gosford Gold Cup, promoting Oriental Lady as the winner.

They also finalised an inquiry into Midsummer Sun’s death after a Rosehill barrier trial in February, clearing the imported stayer of any prohibited substances in his system at the time.

Flemington Equine Clinic partner Dr Tom Brennan was disqualified for six years after stewards found him guilty of 12 charges, including lying at the original inquiry.

His breaches included supplying a bottle labelled “vitamin complex”, later found to have high concentrations of cobalt, to be used on Midsummer Sun. Brennan has denied knowing the bottle contained the substance.

His legal counsel, Chris Winneke, said on Monday evening he was still to discuss the prospect of an appeal with Brennan, but the embattled veterinarian took to Twitter after the penalties were announced and wrote: “See you in court Ray…

[Murrihy, Racing NSW’s chief steward].”

Brennan is also at the centre of claims he supplied Kavanagh’s father, Mark, a Melbourne Cup-winning trainer, and fellow Flemington conditioner Danny O’Brien with the product for use on their own horses.

He has denied knowing the “vitamin complex” contained cobalt.

Racing NSW disqualified Flemington Equine practice manager Aaron Corby for three months after being found guilty of trying to persuade Kavanagh not to name Brennan as the source of the “vitamin complex”.

Media personality Brent Zerafa has already confirmed he will appeal a three-month disqualification, also handed down on Monday, for conduct prejudicial to the image of racing.

Zerafa was charged for promoting a mounting yard selection of the Kavanagh-trained I Am Zelady when working for now defunct broadcaster TVN in January despite receiving a text from harness racing identity John Camilleri, a longtime family friend, claiming he had used his “magic” on stablemate Palazzo Pubblico.

Zerafa later backed Palazzo Pubblico at $6, half the top fluctuation on offer.

Stewards found Zerafa didn’t “deliberately throw off” when announcing his picks from the yard, but claimed it was conduct “that would give rise to such a suspicion in the minds of a reasonable person” when publicised.

Camilleri was disqualified for 4½ years for facilitating the drenching of Kavanagh horses.

Disqualified trotting trainer Mitch Butterfield was also banned for one year and nine months for his role in drenching Kavanagh-trained horses while stablehand Michael O’Loughlin was disqualified for 2½ years for assisting Butterfield and not appearing at the original inquiry.


Sam Kavanagh: 9 years 3 months and $3000 fine

Dr Tom Brennan: 6 years

Aaron Corby: 3 months

Mitchell Butterfield: 1 year 9 months

John Camilleri: 4 years 6 months

Michael O’Loughlin: 2 years 6 months