By: Andrew Eddy
Trainer Danny O’Brien said he purposefully held back information from Racing Victoria stewards in his cobalt investigation because he feared it would be misused against him.
O’Brien was being questioned by RV’s legal counsel Jeff Gleeson, SC, as to why he did not initially tell the stewards about a $3000 payment to his vet Dr Tom Brennan for the drips.
“I did not trust Racing Victoria,” O’Brien said. He added that the trust between he and stewards had broken down after information he had earlier supplied was, in his words, turned against him.
His revelation came on day 19 of his and fellow Flemington trainer Mark Kavanagh’s VCAT appeals against lengthy cobalt disqualifications.
O’Brien had earlier admitted that he thought the drips were at the heart of his cobalt troubles in the days after he was informed of his breach but did not tell stewards of his payment to Brennan for fear it would be used in a news headline.
“Stewards were going to misuse the information,” O’Brien said. “Once again Terry Bailey (chief steward) betrays everyone’s trust … and uses it on a public stage.”
Gleeson then put to him that he withheld relevant evidence as he expected to be wronged to which he replied: “Yes.”
Earlier, O’Brien said he agreed to begin an intravenous drip regime for his horses in September, 2014 after learning that training great Chris Waller was using drips to aid the post-race recovery of his horses.
O’Brien said his stable began using the IV drips as a replacement for the saline drenches for some horses in September, 2014 after he had been informed by Brennan that Waller had moved to IV drips to better benefit a horse’s recovery.
Gleeson then asked why in all the evidence he had given at the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board and at the current hearing at VCAT hearing that he had never mentioned Waller’s name before Tuesday’s hearing.
“I didn’t want to put Chris’ name in any proceedings,” O’Brien answered.
The appeal of O’Brien and Kavanagh heard on Tuesday that O’Brien often followed the leads of the best trainers in the world and so that was why he had copied Waller’s move to a more sophisticated supplementation regime.
O’Brien had earlier given evidence that he followed the advice of the world’s best trainer Aidan O’Briento strenuously gallop his horses in a straight line while also taking the advice of South African trainer Mike de Kock to purchases high-speed treadmills.
The appeal also heard he had spent about $400,000 on high-altitude boxes at his stables after learning that Victoria’s leading trainer Darren Weir was resting his horses at high altitude.
O’Brien agreed to Gleeson’s assertion that his initial discussions with Brennan about the prospect of introducing IV drips for post-race recovery was the most important discussion in this case.
Gleeson then quizzed the trainer as to what he knew about the solution that Brennan was going to use to drip his horses.
But O’Brien said he never questioned Brennan about the contents of the drips, or how much they would cost his clients. He said he expected the mix contained vitamins, minerals and electrolytes and that he did not know that Brennan was adding 5ml of the vitamin complex mix that contained the excessive amounts of cobalt.
Gleeson then challenged O’Brien, saying that a highly professional trainer such as himself should have done the due diligence on what his horses were receiving to which O’Brien answered: “The due diligence was to select the right vet.”
The appeal enters its 20th day on October 10 with dates also booked in for October 14, 17 and 20 to complete the hearing.