By: Andrew Eddy

The VCAT cobalt hearing of trainers Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh moved a step closer to a conclusion on Friday with final submissions completed, but no date has been set for a decision.

The hearing for the two Flemington trainers, both disqualified for lengthy periods on cobalt offences, began on the first day of the new racing season and has progressed right through to the Spring Carnival, covering a further 24 days and featuring as many as 15 witnesses.

The trainers’ barrister Damian Sheales took the floor first thing on Friday and among his raft of submissions to Justice Greg Garde, he dealt with the accreditation issues surrounding the laboratories that tested the urine samples of their horses for cobalt and the Australian Racing Rule 178 (d) that covers the appropriate testing procedures.

He also put forward two estoppel motions covering Racing Victoria’s lack of notification to licensed persons that registered vitamin products such as VAM could put a horse’s cobalt readings over the threshold of 200 micrograms per litre of urine when considering out-of-competition testing.

The second estoppel concerned AR 178 (d), which says that stewards have a duty to notify trainers if one of their horses tests positive to an illegal substance or is found to be over the threshold.

Sheales claimed that if Kavanagh had been informed immediately about Magicool’s high cobalt reading, O’Brien would have immediately ceased using IV drips and therefore would never have recorded a positive to cobalt.

Justice Garde will consider the oral and written submissions from both counsels before delivering a verdict.

Legal counsel for the father and son training partners Lee and Shannon Hope, who also received lengthy cobalt disqualifications and have appealed to VCAT, concluded the day with his submission on the accreditation issue.

Dates will be set for their VCAT hearing following the decision on the current case.